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Tales of wonder by James Gillray

The following tables will create the wonderfully florid, two-part titles characteristic of late 18th and early 19th century Gothic Romances. The kind that followed the general format of “Something Something; or, The Something Something of the Something Something”. Use them to define the “horrid novel” hidden under a young lady’s pillow, or even to title your next Gothic gaming scenario!

d20, twice

This book is entitled…

1

“The Cursed… Monk;

2

“The Haunted… Castle;

3

“The Curious… Abbey;

4

“The Spectral… Count;

5

“The Lost… Maiden;

6

“The Uncanny… Prisoner;

7

“The Hidden… Steed;

8

“The Ruined… Seat;

9

“The Disputed… Manor;

10

“The Stolen (or Abducted)… Heir(ess);

11

“The Secret… Tomb;

12

“The Infamous… Turk;

13

“The Terrible… Staircase;

14

“The Mysterious… Vault;

15

“The Bewitched… Image;

16

“The Deadly… Idol;

17

“The Fateful… Book;

18

“The Ancient… Chamber;

19

“The Disappearing… Cavern;

20

“The Miserable… Bandit;

d12, five times

or, …

1

The… Thrilling… Tale… of the… Fortress”.

2

A(n)… Dolorous… Novel… of the Horrid… Tower”.

3

A Most… Forbidden… Story… of the Damned… Cloister”.

4

Another… Wondrous… Account… of the Blessed… Lovers of Italy”.

5

The First… Sworn… Recounting… of the Doomed … Forest”.

6

The Second… Gothic… Fable… of the Fated… Mountains”.

7

The Celebrated and… Terrifying… Poem… of the Forbidden… Orient”.

8

A Terrible and… Sublime… Epic… of the Mysterious… Family”.

9

The Collected and… Entire… Testament… of the Mad… Sodality”.

10

A Queer and… Philosophical… Romance… of the Strange… Crypt”.

11

The Famous and… Shocking… Relation… of the Weird… Chapel”.

12

The Whole and… Curious… Dialogue… of the Infamous… Spaniard”.

d100

As you page through the book, you notice…

1 – 2

it promotes itself as an account of true events.

3 – 4

the shocking illustrations, unfit for the eyes of “respectable” women.

5 – 6

its strong moral voice that upholds virtue at every turn.

7 – 8

the author’s apparent sympathy with the ostensible villain of the story.

9 – 10

the author’s ability to inspire genuine fright.

11 – 12

that the title seems to have nothing at all to do with the plot.

13 – 14

it’s an obvious rewrite of a better-known book.

15 – 16

the author has plagiarized whole sections from other novels, and strung them together with a flimsy narrative.

17 – 18

its blasphemous and impious nature.

19 – 20

its graphic depiction of sex.

21 – 22

its subversive political stance.

23 – 24

the scenes are beautifully described, but the characters are completely unconvincing.

25 – 26

the plot meanders aimlessly.

27 – 28

the thrilling and masterfully-structured plot.

29 – 30

the plot is completely predictable.

31 – 32

the story is full of contradictory episodes.

33 – 34

it appears to be little more than a catalog of horrors suffered by its heroine.

35 – 36

the numerous poems inserted into the story.

37 – 38

the characters are obvious stand-ins for well-known people.

39 – 40

the whole book is an extended allegory.

41 – 42

it takes every opportunity to defame the Roman Catholic church.

43 – 44

it is extremely antisemitic.

45 – 46

it is filled with slanders against Muslims.

47 – 48

it ascribes every possible crime to the Romany.

49 – 50

every aristocrat is portrayed as a depraved monster, except the virtuous heroine (of course).

51 – 52

it actually promotes tolerance of widely-disliked groups.

53 – 54

it constantly belittles the minds and morals of women.

55 – 56

the author’s obvious support for the education and emancipation of women.

57 – 58

it actually supports the institution of slavery.

59 – 60

the author’s obvious support for the abolition of slavery.

61 – 62

the author has obviously never been to any of the real-world locations described.

63 – 64

the inclusion of authentic details about the places and kinds of people described.

65 – 66

the depictions of witchcraft seem a little too authentic.

67 – 68

the author’s obsession with blood.

69 – 70

the author’s obsession with torture.

71 – 72

the author’s obsession with incest.

73 – 74

the author’s obsession with death and decay.

75 – 76

the author’s obsession with outré sexual practices.

77 – 78

the heroine seems to endure an amount of abuse that should have killed her in the first chapter!

79 – 80

its strong opposition to arranged marriages.

81 – 82

its surprising sympathy with arranged marriages.

83 – 84

the plot focuses on the “romantic friendship” between two people of the same sex.

85 – 86

it was carelessly typeset, and whole pages seem to be missing.

87 – 88

the credited author appears to be a pseudonym for a well-known writer who perhaps didn’t want to be associated with this book.

89 – 90

you can’t shake the feeling that there is another text somehow encoded within this one.

91 – 92

the surprising weakness of the male characters in the face of danger.

93 – 94

the absurdly high number of times the heroine faints.

95 – 96

there are several recipes included in the text!

97 – 98

it reads like a primer for budding young criminals!

99 – 100

it shamelessly glorifies suicide.

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