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Carlton House, Grand Staircase, by Charles Wild, 1819 - royal coll 922173 257092 ORI 0

Besides having an individual name, a stately home of the Ghastly Age (1765 -1820) might also have its own customs observed nowhere else. They could be evidence of a suppressed and tragic history, be related to a supernatural haunting, indicate the existence of a secret society, or even be the remnants of some clandestine cult. Of course, the following list can be useful not just to Ghastly Affair Presenters, but also for GMs of Horror, Georgian, Napoleonic, Victorian-era, Mannerpunk, or Steampunk games, whenever characters are guests (or investigators) in old mansions, châteaux, or estate houses.

For some curious reason… (d20)

1 | Guests are expected to participate in a unique trick-taking card game played only here. The trump suit depicts the nobility of Hell.
2 | Nobody is supposed to wear a certain color, because it is associated with a family ancestor who died tragically.
3 | The coffee is always served in a cup with a braid of grass twined around the handle. If asked why, the answer will be “to remember her, when it was May”.
4 | Every guest must adopt a different name for the duration of their stay.
5 | Men and women must eat at separate tables. They change tables in-between each “stage” or course, of the dinner.
6 | When the women retire to the drawing room to play cards after a meal, they must don masks.
7 | A small glass of cordial is left on the billiards table at all times.
8 | An extra setting is always left at the table. When asked why, the answer will be “for the Queen, of course”. If the questioner assumes that the current Queen is meant, the person questioned will explain that that the setting is intended for “the Queen who has never reigned”.
9 | A unique toast is always made between the first and second courses at dinner, to the glory of “Our patron, Old Man B”. Participation I mandatory, but nobody can (or will) explain who is being toasted.
10 | Guests of the house must attend services in the strange chapel every night. The service is evidently Christian, but of no known denomination. Likewise, the saintly figures depicted on the walls of the chapel are unidentifiable.
11 | All the windows of the house are barred shut at sundown on a particular night, and are not to be opened for any reason.
12 | One kind of flesh (pork, beef, fish, or poultry) is never served. When asked why, the hosts will only remark that “some things remain forbidden, even now”.
13 | The door to a certain room is never opened without a short prayer first being uttered.
14 | There is always served at dinner a dish that no one is supposed to eat.
15 | When returning from shooting or a hunt, all guns must be discharged before passing by a certain tree
16 | Every afternoon a glass of wine (or beer) is poured out on a certain spot on the lawn, which is marked by a large stone.
17 | Small mirrors are tucked behind the furniture in certain places throughout the house. They are inscribed with strange sigils. The servants will become extremely agitated if a mirror is moved, but will only say that “now you’ve made it angry”.
18 | There is a step on the grand staircase that is different color than the rest. One must not place a foot on that step, but always stride over it. If a guest asks why, they’ll be told that “he will you catch you, if you do”.
19 | An antique child’s toy is always left in one corner of an otherwise elegantly appointed salon, and must never be removed. Nobody can remember why.
20 | The skull of the house’s architect is under a glass dome on the mantle of the front vestibule. If asked, the family and servants both insist that if the skull is ever moved, it will scream, and ruin will fall upon the house.

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