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Death knocks at the doors of both the poor and the rich. Pen Wellcome V0042153

If there is a front door in a Gothic story, eventually a mysterious stranger is going to knock on it! If you need some help thinking up a new way to make a character’s life complicated, just have one of the following people show up at their home.

On the other side of the door is… (d20)

  1. A lovely young woman who claims to have been the victim of a carriage (or other) accident. She is oddly listless during the day, but becomes much more vivacious after nightfall. Any young people in the house will begin to fall ill soon after.
  2. A single-minded, heavily armed man dressed in black. He asks about another man he describes as having a cadaverous complexion, blood-shot eyes and red-stained lips. The inquirer insists that if he told you why he needs to find the man, you would not believe it.
  3. A desperate man (or woman) in dirty clothes, fleeing from the police (or thief-takers).
  4. A footman dressed in an antique livery, bearing a letter that invites you (and your guests) to a party at a long-abandoned château.
  5. A group of masked revelers who insist they’ve been invited to a ball at this address.
  6. A group of men dressed in medieval armor. They will not lift their visors, but in an archaic dialect they insist on the right of hospitality.
  7. An extremely pale man dressed in elegant clothes, who claims to have shocking news that you must sit down to hear. He will not come inside without your express invitation, however.
  8. A mature-looking man who always wears a hat pulled low on his head. He tells stories of far-off lands and times long ago. Eventually, he asks if anyone present desires immortality.
  9. A raven that speaks, but only says a single word that seems to mock a recent loss suffered by the listener. The raven could actually be a Zoomorphic Revenant, a transformed Fairy, or even a tormenting Imp.
  10. Death, politely stating he has an appointment with someone in the house.
  11. A young man who claims to have no memories of who he is, and says he has been held captive in a cellar as long as he can remember. He bears a letter, which directs the reader to send the young man to join a military unit.
  12. A woman in an exotic outfit, speaking a strange language you have never heard before. If given paper and ink she will draw a map of an unknown island, and point to it.
  13. A group of Gypsies who offer to do whatever repairs, gardening work, and animal care you might need. If that offer is refused, the women will offer to tell the fortunes of everyone in the household. If that offer is also refused, the oldest Gypsy woman will warn of the doom that awaits the uncharitable.
  14. A man offering to buy the property at an absurdly inflated price. He won’t take no for an answer.
  15. A man selling property insurance. He claims to have been treated rudely at a previous address, where a man (who showed the obvious sign of laudanum addiction) was impatient to get rid of him.
  16. A young couple who give obviously false names, and want a place to stay. Both are dressed simply. They say they have just married, but while the young woman has aristocratic manners and speech, her supposed husband is obviously lower class. If they stay they will eventually be heard to whisper such phrases as “I think we’re safe now, there’s no way they will find us here”, and “Remember, we both promised to do whatever it took not to go back to that awful place”. The Presenter can vary the actual genders of the two people as desired, of course.
  17. An enormous man, well over seven feet tall, who hides his face under a hood. He speaks with a deep, resonant voice and an aristocratic accent. Only his hands are visible, and they seem bony and jaundiced, with skin that is extremely dry and weathered-looking. He is looking for a Swiss chemist who may have passed through these parts.
  18. An emaciated man begging for alms. He looks so thin it is hard to believe he is still alive. If he is given money or food, the food stores of the house will inexplicably multiply. If he is refused, all the food and drink in the house will immediately spoil.
  19. A pretty young woman who wants a place to stay. Her speech is oddly monotone, and her movements jerky. While her complexion is perfect, her skin seems oddly pale and almost waxen. She refuses to sit or stand close to the fireplace. She must be wearing some kind of watch, because a faint ticking sound can be heard coming from her.
  20. A lawyer bearing the deed to a castle, left to you by a relative you have never heard of. No one can remember hearing the sound of a carriage approaching. There is no carriage outside. When the man leaves, he will walk down the road and seem to disappear behind a tree (or another house). The deed is legally valid.

Image Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Death knocks at the doors of both the poor and the rich. Pen and ink drawing. Published: –

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/