Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Thomas Rowlandson - View of the Church and Village of St. Cue, Cornwall - Google Art Project

What’s a Gothic story without an isolated village filled with dark secrets? The following random tables will help you design small European communities with populations between 100 and 1000 people, of the kind that might be constitute part of an 18th century aristocrat’s estate. In conjunction with Appendices A, B, C, and D of “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates”, they let you procedurally generate a complete countryside of horrors for PCs to wander at will.

If you would like your villages to be more Jane Austen and less Matthew Lewis, simply ignore Tables 16 and 17.

Table 1a: The Basic Layout of an Inland Village

d12

The buildings primarily cluster…

1

along a straight section of road

2

along a section of road that curves like a “C”

3

along a section of road that curves like an “S”

4

around an “X”-shaped crossroads

5

around an “X”-shaped crossroads enclosed by a ring.

6

around a “T”-shaped crossroads

7

around a “Y”-shaped, three-way crossroads

8

around a trident where two roads converge at angles on a third.

9

around a star-shaped, six-way crossroads.

10

around an “H” of paths, one leg of which connects to the main road.

11

around an especially large square or green, through which the main road passes.

12

in a gridiron of streets forming short blocks, like a miniature city.

There will also be 2d4 minor lanes branching off from the main paths(s) towards the surrounding fields.

Table 1b: The Basic Layout of a Maritime Village

d6

The buildings primarily cluster….

1

along a section of road that hugs the shoreline.

2

around a “T”-shaped crossroads, with the top of the “T” hugging the shoreline.

3

in a gridiron of streets forming short blocks, like a miniature city.

4

around a triangle of paths, with one side on the waterfront.

5

on a square of paths, with one side on the waterfront.

6

away from the shore, and resemble an inland village. Use Table 1a to determine Basic Layout.

d8

The waterfront has…

1

a long embankment with bollards.

2

a long embankment with bollards and a single long pier.

3

a long embankment with 2d4 short piers.

4

a single long pier.

6 – 7

2d4 piers.

7 – 8

a beach, upon which boats are pulled.

There will also be 2d4 minor lanes branching off from the main cluster of buildings, leading inland.

Table 2: The Main Source of Fresh Water

d6

Most of the water used by villagers comes from…

1

1d4 streams.

2

a canal. 50% chance a lock is located in or near the village.

3

a lake.

4

1d4 ponds.

5

a spring.

6

1d4 wells.

Table 3: Overall Impression of the Village

d20

At fist glance, the village looks:

1 – 6

perfectly ordinary.

7 – 8

very clean and tidy.

9 – 10

very dirty, with filth and garbage everywhere.

11

quite new, as if all the building had been constructed in the past decade.

12 – 13

exceptionally ancient.

14

gloomy and depressing.

15

decrepit.

16

partially deserted.

17

overcrowded.

18

like there was a recent fire (or other disaster).

19 – 20

bucolic.

Table 4: Village Population

d20

Population: Land-owning families (besides the primary landlord):

1

100 + d100 0

2

200 + d100 0

3 – 5

300 + d100 0

6 – 10

400 + d100 1

11 – 15

500 + d100 1

16 – 17

600 + d100 1

18

700 + d100 2

19

800 + d100 2

20

900 + d100 2 or 3

Divide the population by 8 to find the total number of cottages. If the village looks partially deserted, divide by 4. If the village is overcrowded, divide by 16.

About 90% of families of most villages will be directly involved in food production of some kind – whether farming or fishing.

In Poland, Russia, Prussia, and the Kingdom of Hungary, a village may be inhabited mostly or wholly by bound serfs.

In the Kingdom of Hungary, up to 10% of the population may be impoverished (or “sandalled”) nobility – barely distinguishable from peasants in their economic circumstances, but possessing the legal rights of aristocracy.

Table 5: Building Density

d8

The building density in the village is…

1

Very high – almost every building shares a wall with those on either side.

2 – 4

High – there is perhaps a few inches between buildings in the central cluster, with only one or two outlying buildings.

5 – 6

Moderate – there is 1d4 feet between buildings in the central cluster, with a few outlying buildings.

7

Low – there is 4+1d10 feet between buildings. 50% chance that a house has a wall or fence around its lot. The walls or fences of adjacent lots connect. About 25% of the buildings will be up to a ¼ mile away from the main cluster.

8+

Very low – there is 15+d20 feet between buildings in the central cluster, most of which are in the middle of walled or fenced lots. Half or more of the building are scattered up to a ¼ mile from the central cluster.

Modifiers:

-2 for villages in Italy, Spain, Portugal, or Provence.

+4 for villages in Poland and Russia.

A village will be built in the “vernacular” style of its region. There will always be a blacksmith, a grain mill, and a church (the presence of which distinguishes a village from a hamlet). A logging village will also have a saw-mill. Mills may be wind powered (common in colder regions), water-powered, or turned by draft animals. In beer-drinking regions, there often be a malt house (a large building with an open interior, where barley is malted to make beer). In a wine-growing region, a village will have a wine-press instead. In the Italian States, Spain, and southern France, a village may also have its own olivepress. Mills, wine-presses and olive-presses will be usually be owned by the village landlord, who will charge the villagers a fee for its use. Often, there is only a single bread (and roasting) oven in the village, and villagers are likewise charged for its use.

There will be few (if any) shops in a village. Villagers make their own clothing, make most of their own food, repair their own houses, and often make their own beer (or wine). Cutlery and worked iron can be commissioned from the blacksmith. A local woman may be willing to sew (or repair) clothing for visitors. There might be a doctor and/or apothecary in a larger village. Except in those parts of Britain which are already industrializing, most finished goods a village produces (such as cloth or ceramics) are made by its inhabitants in their homes, and then collected by an agent of the landlord (or commissioning merchant). Such commodities may be available for legal purchase – with several days notice. Goods and services that villagers cannot provide themselves must usually be obtained from the market in the nearest town, or from itinerant merchants (who might pass through the village once a week or so, from spring to autumn). Such visiting merchants might work directly for the landlord, or pay him a fee (unless they are Gypsies who visit irregularly, and sell illegally).

Table 5: The Village Church

d20

The village church is…

1 – 3

too small for its congregation.

4 – 6

too large for its congregation.

7

very plainly decorated.

8

ostentatiously decorated.

7 – 9

in very bad repair.

10 – 14

neat, tidy, and in good repair.

15 – 16

filled with strange and disturbing art.

17

apparently a popular place for trysts!

18

of a different denomination than the official state Church.

19

actually two small churches that seem to compete for congregants.

20

an abandoned ruin – where do the villagers worship?

Also see “Twenty Creepy Churches in Isolated Places” in the supplement “A Ghastly Potpourri”.

Table 6a: Landmark of an Inland Village

d100

The most noteworthy location in or near the village is…

1 – 4

the local church.

5 – 8

the estate house (or castle) of the local landlord.

9 – 12

the pleasure house of an aristocrat (other than the landlord). A Villa, Lustschloss, Maison de Plaisance, etc.

13 – 16

a nearby fort where a company or regiment of soldiers is stationed. If the landlord is titled nobility, they may also be the force’s commander.

17 – 20

a local ruin. See Appendix C of “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates”.

21 – 24

a complex of subterranean tunnels. See Appendix D of “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates”.

25 – 28

a network of underground caverns. See Appendix D of “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates”.

29 – 32

an ancient tree.

33 – 36

a stone circle.

37 – 40

a lake.

41 – 44

a bridge.

45 – 48

a natural spring.

49 – 52

a marsh or swamp.

53 – 56

a roadside shrine.

57 – 60

a corpse road.

61 – 64

a hill (if lowland) or valley (if upland).

65 – 68

a small patch of woods that is supposedly haunted.

69 – 72

another whole village, apparently abandoned.

73 – 76

a monument to a local hero.

77 – 80

the village cross.

81 – 84

a large, oddly-colored rock.

85 – 88

a rock formation that resembles something else (a person, animal, monsters, etc.)

89 – 92

a former battlefield, now a mass grave.

93 – 96

the remains of a defensive wall.

97 – 98

a monastery (or school for boys, in a Protestant country).

99 – 100

a convent (or school for girls, in a Protestant country).

Table 6b: Landmark of a Maritime Village

d20

The most noteworthy location in or near the village is…

1

the local church.

2

the estate house (or castle) of the local landlord.

3

a small chapel on an island offshore.

4

a monastery or convent on an island offshore. Abandoned if a Protestant country.

5

the pleasure house of an aristocrat (other than the landlord).

6

a nearby fort where a company or regiment of soldiers is stationed. If the landlord is titled nobility, they may also be the force’s commander.

7

a local ruin. See Appendix C of “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates”.

8

a complex of subterranean tunnels. See Appendix D of “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates”.

9

a network of underground caverns. See Appendix D of “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates”.

10 – 11

a lighthouse / beacon

12 – 13

a supposedly haunted island offshore.

14

a rocky, supposedly inaccessible island offshore.

15

a wrecked ship (just offshore, or even washed up on shore)

16

a large, oddly-colored rock.

17

a rock formation that resembles something else (a person, animal, monsters, etc.)

18

offshore reefs (or rocks) that must be navigated carefully. 25% chance there is also a beacon.

19

a sea cave.

20

several picturesque cliffs.

Villages, whether inland or maritime, are often named for their Landmark.

Table 7: Accommodations for Travelers

d12

Travelers looking for accommodations will find…

1 – 4

nothing at all – apparently everyone drinks and socializes in each other’s homes. 50% chance a family is willing to host travelers who pay in cash.

5 – 6

a tavern with a single common bed.

7

a tavern with a single private room for rent.

8

an inn with a common bed, and 1d4 rooms.

9

a rooming house, with 1d4 rooms available.

10 – 12

a Coaching Inn.

13+

An exclusive Coaching Inn for wealthy travelers. Note: only possible if Village is on a major road. There will also be a separate Tavern, where ordinary villagers go to drink and socialize.

Modifiers:

+3 to the roll if the village lies directly on a major road.

-3 if village if off a major road.

See Appendix A in “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates” for more information on travelers accommodations in the Ghastly Age.

Table 8a: Famous Produce of an Upland Village

d100

The village is best known for its…

1 – 4

butter and cheese.

5 – 9

cattle.

10 – 13

charcoal.

14 – 17

coal.

18 – 21

copper.

22 – 25

distilled liquors.

26 – 29

gemstones.

30 – 33

gunsmiths.

34 – 37

gypsum.

38 – 41

iron.

42 – 46

lead.

47 – 50

lime (mineral).

51 – 56

lumber and firewood.

57 – 61

medicinal plants.

62 – 70

mutton.

71 – 80

quarried stone.

81 – 84

salt (mined). In France especially the production of salt is heavily regulated, with ordinary people being required to purchase a minimum amount of heavily taxed salt a year.

85 – 88

tin.

89 – 92

hard cider.

93 – 96

wine and/or beer.

97 – 100

wool.

Table8b: Famous Produce of a Lowland Village

d100

The village is best known for its…

1 – 3

apiary products (wax and honey).

4 – 6

butter and cheese.

7 – 9

cattle.

10 – 12

ceramics (tiles, pots, etc.).

13 – 15

cloth.

16 – 18

cutlery.

19 – 21

distilled liquors.

22 – 23

dyestufs (indigo, etc.).

24 – 26

eggs.

27 – 29

flax.

30 – 32

flowers.

33 – 35

freshwater fish (village must be near a river or large lake)

36 – 38

grain (wheat, rye, barley, rice, oats, etc.)

39 – 40

gunpowder.

41 – 42

gunsmiths.

43 – 45

gypsum.

46 – 48

hops

49 – 53

lumber and firewood.

54 – 56

medicinal plants.

57 – 60

mutton.

61 – 65

pigs.

66 – 70

poultry.

71 – 72

quarried stone.

73 – 75

region-specific crops (almonds, olives, oranges, saffron, etc.).

76 – 80

salt (mined). In France especially the production of salt is heavily regulated, with ordinary people being required to purchase a minimum amount of heavily taxed salt a year.

81 – 83

smithing.

84 – 88

tanned leather.

89 – 90

tree fruit (apples, pears, apricots, olives, etc.).

91 – 96

wine / beer / hard cider.

97 – 100

wool.

Table8c: Most Important Produce of a Maritime Village

d100

The village is best known for its…

1 – 5

apiary products (wax and honey).

6 – 10

boats.

11 – 15

ceramics (tiles, pots, etc.).

16 – 20

cloth

21 – 25

cutlery.

22 – 30

distilled liquors.

31 – 35

flowers.

36 – 40

fresh fish.

41 – 45

glassware.

46 – 50

medicinal plants.

51 – 55

oysters (or other shellfish).

56

pebbles (used for rocaille decorations)

57 – 61

quarried stone.

62 – 66

rope.

67 – 71

sailors (half the male population will be away at sea at any one time).

72 – 75

salt. In France especially the production of salt is heavily regulated, with ordinary people being required to purchase a minimum amount of heavily taxed salt a year.

76 – 80

salted fish.

81 – 83

seashells (used for rocaille decorations)

84 – 88

shellfish.

89 – 94

smoked fish.

91 – 95

stockfish.

96 – 100

wine / beer / hard cider.

Table 9: Class Relations

d4

Overall, relations between the social classes are…

1

Good. The local landlord is charitable, rents are reasonable, and the average villager is content with their lot. The landlord does not enforce any onerous feudal obligations. There is no crime or violence to speak of. Re-roll results of 13 or above on Table 10.

2 – 3

Average. The rents are a little higher than the villagers would like (but not impossible to pay), the tradesmen usually charge fair prices, and the landlord occasionally takes an interest in the welfare of the villagers. All ancient feudal obligations are enforced, but exceptions are made in cases of extreme hardship. There is some domestic violence, and the occasional drunken fight between villagers.

4

Poor. The rents are outrageously expensive. The landlord and his family zealously enforce any feudal obligations, and are completely disinterested in the misery they cause. The tradesmen frequently price-gouge. The ordinary villagers support and aid the local bandits. There is a significant black market. Many villagers support radical political ideas. Significant crime and violence occurs. Re-roll results of 7 or below on Table 10.

Examples of ancient feudal obligations that may still be in effect include:

  • Having to pay a fine to the landlord for each young woman who gets married.
  • Having to labor for free in the landlord’s fields (in addition to the rent one pays for one’s own field).
  • Handing over a portion of all crops grown in one’s rented field.
  • Unpaid labor on the local roads.
  • Unpaid labor at the landlord’s house or castle.
  • Having to pay to use the landlord’s mills and presses, and not being able to use any other.
  • Having to pay a toll to the landlord each time one crosses a bridge, and not being allowed to use any route that avoids that bridge.

Few (if any) feudal obligations would still be in effect in a British village, while all of the above might be suffered by a French peasant before the Revolution.

Table 10: Disposition of Villagers

d20

The general disposition of the villagers seems to be…

1

virtuous.

2

honest.

3 – 6

friendly.

7

polite.

8

amorous.

9

hot-tempered.

10

fanatically pious.

11

impious

12

crude

13

unfriendly.

14

dishonest.

15

frightened.

16

menacing.

17

gloomy.

18

envious / resentful.

19

fatalistic.

20

criminal. If Class Relations are good, the villagers simply flout needlessly repressive laws, and the village landlord tries to ignore their otherwise harmless behavior whenever possible.

Table 11: The Unofficial Village Leader

d10

The average person in the Village looks for leadership from…

1

a wealthy farmer who owns a substantial tract of land. Roll again if Class Relations are poor.

2

a tradesman involved in the village’s primary produce.

3 – 4

the priest/parson.

5

the blacksmith.

6

the owner of the local tavern or inn. Roll again if there is no such establishment.

7

a retired military officer.

8

a retired sea captain.

9

a retired professor.

10

the local highwayman (or pirate), who only targets the rich. Roll again if Class Relations are good.

Remember, this an unofficial leader – as a rule an 18th century village does not have any formal government of its own, but is administered by the landlord who owns most of the property.

Table 12: The Wealthiest Villager

d12

Besides the local landlord, the wealthiest person in the village is…

1 – 3

a farmer who owns a substantial tract of land. Some villagers might actually be renting land and/or a cottage from this person, rather than the community’s primary landlord. Where serfdom persist, the wealthy farmer might even own their own serfs. The village’s primary landlord, however, will still be the legal authority over the village as a whole.

4 – 5

a shrewd tradesman involved in the village’s primary produce.

6

the priest/parson

7

a wealthy dowager.

8

the miller.

9

the blacksmith.

10

a retired military officer.

11

a retired sea captain.

12

a Mad Scientist whose laboratory is here.

Table 13: The Village Scapegoat

d8

The first person who will get blamed for any catastrophe is…

1

a mentally-challenged vagrant.

2

the local “freak”, who suffers from a congenital birth defect.

3

a Gypsy who who has settled on the outskirts.

4

an old spinster who lives alone.

5

the “foreigner” who recently settled in the village.

6

the local prostitute.

7

the most recently arrived stranger – and that means the PCs!.

8

the Mad Scientist whose laboratory is here.

Table 14: The Most Beloved Villager

d20

The most beloved person in the village is…

1 – 2

the priest / vicar / parson.

3

the landlord. Roll again if Class Relations are poor.

4

the landlord’s spouse. Roll again if Class Relations are poor.

5

the mistress / lover of the landlord (or their spouse).

6

the daughter of the landlord. Roll again if Class Relations are poor.

7

the son of the landlord. Roll again if Class Relations are poor.

8

the beautiful young daughter of a villager.

9

the handsome young son of a villager

10

the local midwife.

11

a generous dowager.

12

the blacksmith.

13

the blacksmith’s wife.

14 – 15

the proprietor of the local tavern/inn/rooming house. Roll again if there is no such establishment.

16

the local prostitute, known for her charity and kindheartedness.

17

a retired soldier.

18

its wealthiest inhabitant (other than the landlord). Roll again if Class Relations are poor.

19 – 20

the local highwayman (or pirate), who only targets the rich. Roll again if Class Relations are good.

Table 15: Current Events

d100

Besides events in the landlord’s Estate House, everyone is also talking about…

1 – 10

an upcoming wedding – and wedding feast!

11 – 14

a pair of young lovers whose love has been forbidden by their parents.

15 – 17

the death of a beloved villager.

18 – 20

the recent arrival of Gypsies.

21 – 23

the upcoming religious festival / procession.

24 – 26

the upcoming village fair and dance.

27 – 29

the discovery of an adulterous affair.

30 – 31

the upcoming pig slaughter. Late autumn/early winter only.

33 – 35

a puzzling and mysterious death.

36 – 38

a dog that became rabid.

39 – 41

the disease that is sweeping through the village.

42 – 44

the recent death of a whole family from spoiled food.

45 – 47

the abduction of a child.

48 – 50

the recent increase in rents.

51 – 52

a puzzling decrease in rents!

53 – 54

a recent boxing match.

55 – 56

a charlatan who recently breezed through the village.

57 – 58

the strange, localized weather event that recently occurred. See Twenty Ominous Weather Events in the supplement “A Ghastly Potpourri“.

59 – 60

the recent birth of a strangely deformed child.

61 – 62

the child who was recently discovered to be a Fairy changeling.

63 – 64

the miraculous healing that recently occurred in the church.

65 – 66

the sighting of a diabolical figure dancing atop the roof of the church.

67 – 68

the exposure and arrest of someone for “crimes against nature”.

69 – 70

the theft of a domestic animal.

71 – 72

the recent attacks on livestock by predators.

73 – 74

a haunting that has recently begun.

75 – 76

the desecration of graves in the churchyard.

77 – 78

an apparently unbeatable fighting cock (or dog).

79 – 80

the statue of a saint that has begun bleeding / exuding oil / crying holy water. Roll again in Protestant countries.

81 – 82

the villager who just experienced a vision of the Virgin Mary. Roll again in Protestant countries.

83 – 84

the “foreigner” who has decided to settle in the village. Note: a “foreigner” could be anyone from a place more than a day’s journey distant).

85 – 86

the mysterious stranger who recently came into town.

87 – 88

the group of soldiers (or Gendarmes) that recently passed through and bullied everyone.

89 – 90

someone’s recent encounter with an Immortal Wanderer.

91 – 92

a recent visit by someone whom the villagers believe to be a member of the Royal Family in disguise.

93 – 94

the recent visit by a demagogue preaching subversive politics.

95 – 96

a recent visit by an artist searching for picturesque landscapes to paint.

97 – 98

the poet that has taken up residence in a cottage.

99 – 100

a monstrous corpse that has been unearthed (or washed ashore).

Table 16: The Immediate Danger

d20

Villagers would welcome help with…

1

a pack of wolves.

2

a bear.

3

a rabid dog.

4

a gang of bandits.

5

normally non-aggressive animals that have suddenly turned vicious.

6

a Ghoulish Revenant.

7

a wandering Mindless Revenant.

8

a Vampyre.

9

a Werewolf.

10

a Ghost.

11

a family of Cannibals lurking in a nearby cave.

12

a monster lurking in the woods (or offshore).

13

a person suspected of being a witch (or warlock).

14

a Demoniac.

15

children who have gone missing.

16

the local Mad Scientist – pitchforks and torches are ready!

17

a press gang that has targeted the men of the community.

18

crimes committed by soldiers recently billeted in the village.

19

Ruffians employed by the local landlord to collect rents. Roll again if Class Relations are good.

20

a Fairy who who has abducted someone.

Table 17: The Village’s Dark Secret

d100

The villagers don’t want outsiders to know about…

1 – 4

a terrible crime committed there in the past, for which no one was ever brought to justice.

5 – 8

a recent crime committed by one or more respected members of the community.

9 – 11

all the inbreeding. Use Appendix L: Inherited Peculiarities of Inbred Noble Families from “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates” to determine the distinguishing characteristic of native villagers. Only roll once – the most inbred villagers are nowhere near as inbred as the aristocracy!

12 – 14

the Vampyre that they secretly serve.

15 – 17

the many werwolves who inhabit the place.

18 – 20

the nearby caves that shelter monsters.

21 – 23

the evil that lurks in an abandoned mine.

24 – 26

the ancient temple complex the village is built atop.

27 – 29

the Pagan worship that persists in the Village.

30 – 32

the human sacrifices they make to preserve the fertility of the fields.

33 – 35

their devotion to Satan (or another diabolical figure).

36 – 38

their highly unorthodox Christian worship.

39 – 40

their secret practice of Judaism. Openly Jewish villages exist in Poland, western Russia, and the Kingdom of Hungary. Elsewhere, the openly Jewish population tends to be urban.

41

their secret practice of Islam.

42 – 45

their reverence towards a local Fairy.

46 – 48

their hunger for human flesh!

49 – 51

their practice of swapping spouses.

52 – 54

the fate of the travelers that recently disappeared after visiting the village.

55 – 57

the purpose of the talismans hung everywhere.

58 – 60

the local gang of bandits (or wreckers).

61 – 63

the coven of witches who meets nearby.

64 – 66

the reason their church was abandoned.

67 – 69

an abandoned house, and the awful people who once dwelt there.

70 – 72

the ruined castle nearby.

73 – 75

the buried treasure that was recently unearthed.

76 – 78

the local haunting. See Appendix O in “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates”.

79 – 81

the village demoniac.

82 – 84

the desecrated graves in the churchyard.

85 – 87

the revolutionary who is hiding out there.

88 – 90

the young aristocrat who is hiding there with their lower-class spouse (or lover).

91 – 93

the powerful magician who lives here.

94 – 95

the dragon that must be placated with the sacrifice of a virgin girl every 10 years.

96 – 97

their interbreeding with Fairies, or something monstrous.

98

the upcoming wedding of a young woman to Satan.

99 – 100

the landlord’s shocking practice of jus primae noctis.
Advertisements