Wondrous Metals, Minerals, and Materials of Panzoasia

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Adamant (Pure): This is the hardest of all metals, found only in the depths of the Chthon under Panzoasia, and beneath the fabled Pillars of the Earth. It is mined by the deep-dwelling Saganic Gnomes, who trade it to Dwarven metal-mongers in return for foodstuffs that cannot otherwise be obtained in the Underworld. Panzoasian Adamant is an iridescent metal, shifting through a spectrum of hues according to how the light strikes its surface. It weighs twice as much as iron, and a bar of it is practically unbreakable. Accordingly, it can only be melted by the burning blood of the Hrycus goat, or in the fires of Purgatory. A weapon made of pure Adamant grants its wielder a non-magical +4 to hit and damage, while armor made from it has an Armor Class 4 points better than normal (i.e. Chain Mail of pure Adamant grants AC 1). Only the Saganic Gnomes, Saganic Salamanders, and certain Dwarven smiths know the secret of working pure Adamant.
Value: 6,000 gp per pound. Items made from pure Adamant are worth 600 times their normal value.

Adamantine Steel (Alloy): This alloy of Adamant and iron is twice as hard as normal steel. It has a faint but noticeable iridescent gleam. Weapons made of it are +1 to hit and damage, and armor made from it has an Armor Class 1 point better than normal. Admantine Steel is non-magical, however, and cannot hit creatures immune to normal weapons. Only the Saganic Gnomes, Saganic Salamanders, and certain Dwarves know the secret technique of creating items of Adamantine Steel.
Value: 1,000 gp per pound. Items made from Adamantine Steel are worth 100 times their normal value.

Cloud Silver: This wondrous metal is collected from the interior of the cloud islands that float within the legendary Vault of Air, and sometimes above Panzoasia. Only the Saganic Sylphs know how to condense the vaporous silver of the clouds into solid ingots, small amounts of which they occasionally trade to the Elves and earthbound Fae in return for scented oils and incenses. Pure Cloud Silver is effectively weightless, with neutral buoyancy in the air. An object made of cloud silver will neither fall nor rise if released from one’s grasp. If thrown, such an object will continue moving on the same plane until it comes to a stop from friction with the air, but will never fall. A Cloud Silver item about the size of a buckler can support up to a pound of ordinary earthly matter placed on top of it, before slowly falling to the ground. Pure Cloud Silver resembles terrestrial silver, but does not tarnish, is about as strong as iron, and shines in darkness with light equal to a candle. The Saganic Sylphs make all of their armor and weapons from it.
Value: 2,000 gp per ingot, which occupies the same space as 1 lb of ordinary silver. Items made from pure Cloud Silver are worth 200 times their normal value.

Cloud Steel (Alloy): This alloy of Cloud Silver is one-quarter the weight of normal steel, but just as hard. It is more reflective than normal steel, but duller than pure Cloud Silver. Like pure Cloud Silver, however, it glows in the dark. Despite containing iron, Cloud Steel is not especially damaging to Fairies, who can wear armor made of it without any discomfort. Only the Saganic Sylphs, Fairy Folk, and certain Elven smiths know the secret of creating and working with Cloud Steel.
Value: 500 gp per pound. Items made from pure Cloud Steel are worth 50 times their normal value.

Chthonic Carbuncle: This crystalline mineral runs in veins throughout the Underworld. It occurs in red, green, blue, and violet varieties, all of which shed colored light. Much of the Underworld is bathed in the weird illumination of Chthonic Carbuncle (as well as that of phosphorescent fungi). The light emitted by the blue and violet varieties of Chthonic Carbuncle also causes certain minerals to glow, a fact exploited by some subterranean natives who employ fluorescent paints and dyes. Sometimes Underworld natives will simply expose veins of the stone and allow it to glow, but chucks of Chthonic Carbuncle are also used in lanterns, held in sconces, and placed atop torchiers. A one-pound chunk will emit light equal to a torch. Unfortunately, Chthonic Carbuncle can cause strange mutations (and possibly mental derangement) in those exposed to it for prolonged periods – accounting, perhaps, for the many bizarre forms of life found in the Underworld. Just an hour’s exposure to sunlight will destroy Chthonic Carbuncle’s ability to emit light.
Value (Mineral Quality): 100 gp per pound.
Value (Gem Quality): 5,000 gp per carat.

Deep Glass: This unusually durable form of obsidian is mined by the Saganic Undines from submarine rifts in the Eternal Sea. It appearance it closely resembles frosted glass of the ordinary kind, and occurs in a full spectrum of colors. Hues of blue and green are most common, but among the Undines the most prized variety is opalescent. Deep Glass is employed extensively for weapons and armor by the Undines, who jealously keep the secret of properly shaping and polishing it. The material is just as hard as steel, but at a third of the weight. The Undines will sometimes trade items made of Deep Glass to their allies among the Human Sea Folk, in return for objects impossible to make under the water – especially weapons of Orichalcum. Unfortunately, the special quantities of Deep Glass degrade if it is not completely submerged in water for at least an hour each day, eventually becoming just as brittle as ordinary glass.
Value: 300 gp per pound. Items made from Deep Glass are worth 30 times their normal value.

Draconian Cinnabar: The dried and hardened blood of the vicious and stupid Serpentine Dragons, Draconian Cinnabar is a brilliant red pigment that is both colorfast, and completely non-toxic. It is used in paint, as a cloth dye, and as a fancy food colorant. Most of it is exported from the Empire of Aghidea, and the Kingdom of Yaribas. The color of Draconian Cinnabar is considered prestigious everywhere throughout Panzoasia – except, of course, in Bythebia (where red things are disliked).
Value: 5 gp an ounce.

Dragontite: This deep red gemstone grows in the brains of Serpentine Dragons, and must be extracted while the monster is still alive (or still in the process of dying). Widely considered the most valuable jewel of all, the raw stone can range in size from one to six carats. The secret of properly cutting and polishing Dragontite is held by certain families of Gnomish gem-cutters. The stone is a vital component of magic items involving fire, flight, or the extension of lifespans.
Value: 10,000 gp per carat.

Meteoritic Steel: Made with iron harvested from meteorites, this dull gray metal can be used to make weapons capable of harming creatures otherwise immune to normal attacks (but grants no other bonuses). Although every People of Panzoasia knows how to work it, Halfling smiths are renowned for making the highest quality items of Meteoritic Steel. Meteoritic Steel is as damaging to Fairies as ordinary pure iron.
Value: 200 gp per pound. Items made from Meteoric Steel are worth 20 times their normal value.

Orichalcum (True Copper): This beautiful metal is amber-orange in color, and shines in the dark. It never rusts or corrodes, nor can it be dissolved by acid. Like Meteoritic Iron, weapons made of Orichalcum can damage creatures normally immune to non-magical attacks. Unlike Meteoritic Steel, however, it is non-ferreous, and can be made into plate armor wearable by Fae. The secret to working Orichalcum is held by certain Human smiths of the Ultimate West, and they trade items made from it to the Saganic Undines and Fairy Folk. The richest deposits of the metal are in Ombratia and Maeland.
Value: 300 gp per pound. Items made from Orichalcum are worth 30 times their normal value.

Tezacan Obsidian: This beautiful black volcanic glass is as hard as steel, and not brittle like ordinary obsidian. It will hold an extremely fine edge, and blades made of it are +1 to damage. As its common name indicates, it is found primarily in the Triumvirate of Tezaca, and the secret of properly working it is known only there. Daggers made of Tezacan Obsidian with jade handles are symbols of social rank in the Triumvirate.
Value: 200 gp per pound. Blades made from Tezacan Obsidian are worth 20 times their normal value.

Toad Stone: This naturally smooth and round stone is from extracted the forehead of the giant Jewel Toad, and can be brown, green, or black in color. An intact Toad Stone is generally 5 to 6 carats in weight, but the stones are cut and polished into smaller, 1 carat cabochons. Toad Stone is a natural poison antidote. Simply pressing a Toad Stone to the flesh of the poisoned person allows them a second Saving Throw to avoid harm. For that purpose Toad Stones are often set into rings, or worn around the neck. Actually crushing a full carat of Toad Stone and swallowing it will instantly neutralize any poison or venom, no matter how virulent – including poisons of a magical nature.
Value: 2,000 gp per carat.

Terrabolam: There are two types of this strange mineral – a “male” variety that is glittering black in color, and a “female” that is lighter gray (but which also glitters). If a “male” and female” stone are brought close together, they will produce a flame between them sufficient to ignite any inflammable material. The richest deposits of Terrabolam stones are found the mountainous region north of Qozanistan.
Value: 100 gp per pair. (Each stone is typically100 carats.)

Lithic Ice: Mined by Dwarves in Fjaldarheim and the Storm Giant Kingdom, this is the only material that can hold the burning blood of the Hrycus goat without melting. Consequentially, it is vital to creating items of Adamant, and in the production of Adamantine Steel. It is a cloudy, translucent mineral with marbling of white, gray, and blue, and is always freezing cold to the touch. Besides its use in the manufacture of Adamantine weapons and armor, blocks of it are also used to preserve food by freezing – and in making chilled desserts!
Value: 1000 gp per pound.

The Magician Class for Classic B/X Rules

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This version of the “Magician” class from Ghastly Affair has been reworked for use with retro-clones of the classic B/X rpg rules, such as Necrotic Gnome’s “Old School Essentials”. It differs slightly from the same Class found in Ghastly Affair, to make it more suitable for use in Dark Fantasy B/X campaigns. Compared to the standard B/X Magic User, the Magician is more versatile, but the magic they employ is both riskier and more costly.

MAGICIAN

Sorcerer. Witch. Warlock. Theurgist. Conjuror. Necromancer. Whatever the name, you are a worker of wonders, and a keeper of mysteries. You might be a member of secret society pulling the strings of princes and presidents. Perhaps you are a noble-born witch who slips from her palace by night to dance naked under the moonlight. Maybe you’re a rogue scholar who owes his soul to a Demon Lord. You could even be a pious canoness who can call upon the aid of celestial beings.

As a Magician, you can utilize spells by four different means: by using Incantations, by performing Ceremonies, by creating Talismans, or by employing Pacts. The knowledge of a spell might be directly imparted by a magical being, taught by another Magician, gleaned from an ancient text, or even discovered through long hours of magical experimentation.

You will have to decide who initiated you into magic – another Magician, an occult order, or a magical being of some kind. Perhaps you accidentally summoned a Planetary Angel while pursuing an ancient work of magical philosophy; or have performed the Ritual of the Crossroads, and signed the Black Book in your blood. Maybe you even studied at one of the fabled Black Schools of the Underworld – where sorcery is taught by Infernal masters who claim the soul of every tenth scholar.

Use the Magician Class to create characters inspired by such fictional characters as Heinrich Faust (from Goethe’s “Faust”) and Carathis (from the novel “Vathek”), or historical figures such as Cagliostro and La Voisin.

ABILITY REQUIREMENTS: Intelligence and Wisdom of at least 9 each.
PRIME REQUISITE(S): Intelligence and Wisdom.
HIT DICE: d4 + Constitution Bonus, up to 9th Level.
+1 Hit Points per Level after 9th, and Constitution Bonus no longer applies.
USEABLE WEAPONS: Dagger, Staff, Club, or Crossbow. (+ Pistol, if available.)
USEABLE ARMOR: None. (Breastplate, if available). No shields.
ATTACKS: As Magic user
SAVING THROWS: As Magic user
ALIGNMENT: Any.
LANGUAGES: Common and Alignment. Magicians often learn the native languages of magical beings.

SPECIAL ABILITIES:

Esoteric Knowledge: You have a base 30% chance to correctly identify a magical being (such as a Djinni or Demon), to remember some bit of esoteric lore appropriate to your current situation, to decipher a code, or to read an inscription written in an arcane language. At the GM’s discretion this ability can be used to correctly identify a magic item. You can only roll once per subject or encounter. The chance to remember relevant Esoteric Knowledge increases by 5% per Level, to a maximum of 95%.

Use Incantation: By means of your Magical Implement (and the secret words of power) you can use any spell from the list of Incantations you know. You do not need to re-memorize or otherwise prepare Incantations before using them.

The total Levels of Incantations you can use per day is equal to your Character Level times two. However, if you reach that that total, you will fall unconscious for a full Turn. Furthermore, even after you regain consciousness you will be so exhausted that you will be unable to use Incantations, perform Ceremonies, or Employ Pacts again until you get a full night’s rest.

  • For example, if you are 4th Level Magician, you can use a total of 8 Levels worth of Incantations a day. This could be eight 1st Level spells; four 2nd Levels spells; two 1st Level spells and three 2nd Level spells; or any other combination that doesn’t exceed 8 total Levels.

Perform Ceremony: Through a lengthy series of symbolic words and actions you can create magical effects from the list of Ceremonies you know. You can even affect a target you cannot see, if you have a piece of them (or something they own). Also, spells cast as Ceremonies can be held “in-reserve”, to take effect at some later time.

Ceremonies require half an hour per Spell level to perform, and require materials with a value in gp equal to 20 times the Spell’s level squared. If you are traveling or adventuring, you will have to obtain the materials you need to perform any desired Ceremonies before you set out, unless you can somehow obtain them in the course of your travels.

Any particular Ceremony can only be performed once a day, and only one spell can be held “in reserve” at a time. If you use a Ceremony on target you cannot see, they always receive a Saving Throw (even if the spell doesn’t ordinarily allow one), and if they Save, you can never again affect them with that Ceremony.

  • For example, Wizard Lock is a 2nd Level Ceremony. It requires an hour to perform, and 80 gp worth of non-reusable materials. If you perform a Ceremony of Wizard Lock today, you will have to wait until tomorrow to use it again.
  • As a second example, if you perform the Purify Food and Water Ceremony (1st Level), it will take a half hour, and expend 20 gp of materials. At its performance, you can decide to hold the spell “in reserve” until the next time you encounter spoiled food that you need to eat. If you already have Purify Food and Water “in reserve”, its the the only spell you can have so prepared.
  • For a third example, you can perform a Ceremony to inflict a Curse on somebody whose hair, blood, or clothing you posses, even if they are currently 100 miles away. Since Curse is a 3rd Level Ceremony, it will require an hour-and-a-half to perform, and use 180 gp worth of materials. If your would-be victim saves versus Magic, you can never try to Curse them again with a Ceremony.

Create Talismans: You can create an item that grants you (or a specified person) a constant spell effect. The physical basis of a Talisman requires rare materials worth 200 times the square of the Spell’s Level in gold pieces, or else blood and body parts from magical beings with total HD equal to twice the Spell’s Level. Charging a Talisman takes 1 hour per Spell Level. A charged Talisman lasts for 30 days, and will be ruined if touched by anyone other than its intended wearer. You can only create a Talisman if you know the appropriate spell in its “Talisman” form. You can only have one charged Talisman active at a time, whether worn by you or another.

  • For example, creating a Talisman of Read Magic (allowing the wearer to automatically decipher all magical writings) is a 3rd Level Spell. It requires either materials worth 1,800 gp, or else the blood (and/or body parts) from at least 6 HD worth of magical beings (such as two Thouls, or a single White Dragon). It requires 3 hours to charge.

Employ Pact: You can make sacrifice to a being from another plane of existence, and thereby temporarily gain some of their magical power.

Each Pact you can employ is activated by a different sacrifice, imposed by the being who grants it. Roll a d4 to determine what the granting entity wants in exchange:
1 = The blood of specific creatures with total Hit Dice approximately equal to the Level of the Spell.
2 = Wealth equal to 200 gp per Spell level (the coins or items disappear into the entity’s hoard on its home plane).
3 = A point of the Magician’s Constitution (or other Ability) per Spell Level. (This heals back at the rate of 1 point per day).
4 = The Magician’s blood, resulting in the loss of 2 Hit Points per Spell Level

A particular Pact can only be employed once a day, but you can employ many different Pacts per day – as long as you are capable of offering all the necessary sacrifices!

• For example, you might be able to employ a 5th Level Pact enabling you to Teleport – provided you are willing to sacrifice 10 HP worth of your own blood to the abomination Yrazzin, who dwells in the void between dimensions.

WEAKNESSES:

Magical Implement: You must have and employ a specially prepared object in order to use any Incantations. If you lose your Magical Implement, you must replace it (at a cost of 1000 gp per Magician Level possessed) before you can use Incantations again. Typical Magical implements include a staff, a wand, a sword, a dagger, a book, or an inscribed pantacle.

Power Object: Your magical power is bound to an object, such as a book of magic, an inscribed ring, or the text of your contract with an Infernal being. If you do not actually carry the object on your person, you use magic as if you were one Level lower (a 1st Level Magician must carry their Power Object to use magic at all). If your Power Object is destroyed, you lose the ability to use spells until it can be replaced. Replacing a Power Object costs 5,000 gp per Level of the Magician.

FOLLOWERS AT 11th LEVEL:

At 11th Level you will attract another Magician of 1st – 3rd Level, as well as 1d12 ordinary men and women seeking to be initiated by you as 1st level Magicians. These new initiates will become the core of your support within your magical order, secret society, or coven – or else follow you to form new one.

Experience Points

Level

Title

Hit Points

Esoteric Knowledge

Maximum Levels of Incantations per Day

Maximum Spell Level Usable

0

1

Initiate, or Covener

1d4

30%

2

1

3,000

2

Practiced Initiate, or Fellow Covener

2d4

35%

4

1

6,000

3

Journeyman Magician, or Ordinary Warlock / Ordinary Witch

3d4

40%

6

2

12,000

4

Practiced Magician, or Practiced Warlock / Witch

4d4

45%

8

2

24,000

5

Adept, or Sorcerer / Sorceress

5d4

50%

10

3

48,000

6

Major Adept, or Great Sorcerer / Great Sorceress

6d4

55%

12

3

96,000

7

Thaumaturge

7d4

60%

14

4

192,000

8

Great Thaumaturge

8d4

65%

16

4

384,000

9

Master Magician,

or Master Warlock / Witch Mistress

9d4

70%

18

5

559,000

10

Past Master / Past Mistress

9d4+ 1

75%

20

5

734,000

11

Magus / Maga, or

Warlock Lord / Witch Lady

9d4+2

80%

22

6

909,000

12

Magus / Maga, or

Warlock Lord / Witch Lady

(12th Level)

9d4+ 3

85%

24

6

1,084,000

13

Magus / Maga, or

Warlock Lord / Witch Lady

(13th Level)

9d4+ 4

90%

26

6

1,259,000

14

Supreme Magus / Supreme Maga, or Witch Queen / Witch King

9d4+ 5

95%

28

6

Starting Spells for Magicians

A Magician character starts play knowing three 1st level Spells. These Spells can represent any mix of Incantations, Ceremonies, Talismans, or Pacts the Player desires. The Player of a Magician character must keep a current list of all the Spells that her PC knows, broken down by Incantations, Ceremonies, Talismans, and Pacts.

A Magician’s Grimoire

Magicians keep Grimoires that record their words of power and magical techniques, much like the spell books of “standard” Magic Users. Unlike a Magic User’s spell book, however, a Grimoire is not usually inherently magical (unless it is also the Magician’s Power Object). A Grimoire may be written in a magical cipher or arcane language, but many are actually just inscribed in Common.

Gaining More Spells as a Magician

The Magician is assumed to automatically gain 1 new Spell per Level gained, which can also be of any kind the Player desires (Incantation, Ceremony, Talisman, or Pact), and any Level the Magician can currently employ. All other Spells must be located and learned in the course of regular game play.

The same Spell may in fact be found as an Incantation, Ceremony, Talisman, or Pact, but each version must be learned separately. Magicians in Campaign that also include the “standard” spell-casting Classes can adapt spells they learn from Magic User Scrolls or spell books into Incantations, by making a successful Esoteric Knowledge roll. Likewise, a Magician can attempt to adapt a divine spell they find written on a scroll into a usable Pact, by successfully rolling their Esoteric Knowledge.

Generally, any intelligent being with inherent magical abilities is able to teach a Magician spells corresponding to its own powers. For example, an Efreet can teach the Wall of Fire spell, and a Dryad can teach Charm Person. A magical being can choose to impart a spells as an Incantation, Ceremony, Talisman, or Pact (as appropriate). Of course, most beings from other planes of existence prefer to offer any spells they teach in the form of Pacts.

MAGICIAN SPELLS BY LEVEL

The following lists utilize the Cleric and Magic User spells enumerated in the “Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Cleric and Magic-User Spells”. Game Masters can see that work to adjudicate their effects, use the equivalents from another OSR retro-clone, or refer to the original B/X books.

Note that while many Magicians spells replicate those of Clerics, such spells are “arcane”, and not “divine” in the forms used by Magicians. The “standard” and “reversed” forms of spells (such as Light and Darkness) must almost always be learned separately by Magicians.

* Indicates that a Ceremony’s effect can be held “in-reserve”.

1st LEVEL MAGICIAN SPELLS

1st Level Incantations
Cause Fear
Darkness
Detect Evil
Detect Magic
Floating Disc
Hold Portal
Light
Magic Missile
Protection from Evil
Read Languages
Read Magic
Remove Fear
Resist Cold
Resist Fire
Shield
Sleep
Ventriloquism

1st Level Ceremonies Require 30 minutes, + 20 gp worth of materials.
Charm Person *
Cause Light Wounds
Cure Light Wounds
Purify Food and Water *

1st Level TalismansRequire 200 gp of materials, or at least 2 HD of slain magical creatures. Remain charged for 30 days, or until dispelled.
Detect Evil
Detect Magic
Purify Food and Water

1st Level Pactsd4 to determine the required sacrifice.
1 = 1 HD worth of blood from a specific creature.
2 = 200 gp worth of treasure.
3 = 1 point of the Magician’s Constitution (or other Ability).
4 = 2 Hit Points worth of the Magician’s blood.
Cause Fear
Cause Light Wounds
Charm Person
Cure Light Wounds
Darkness
Detect Evil
Detect Magic
Floating Disc
Hold Portal
Light
Magic Missile
Protection from Evil
Purify Food and Water
Read Languages
Read Magic
Remove Fear
Resist Cold
Resist Fire
Shield
Sleep
Ventriloquism

2nd LEVEL MAGICIAN SPELLS

2nd Level Incantations
Detect Evil
Detect Invisible
ESP
Find Traps
Hold Person
Invisibility
Knock
Know Alignment
Levitate
Locate Object
Mirror Image
Phantasmal Force
Resist Fire
Silence 15’ Radius
Snake Charm
Speak with Animals
Web

2nd Level Ceremonies Require 1 hour, + 80 gp worth of materials.
Bless *
Blight *
Wizard Lock

2nd Level Talismans Require 800 gp of materials, or at least 4 HD of slain magical creatures. Remain charged for 30 days, or until dispelled.
Resist Cold *
Resist Fire *

2nd Level Pactsd4 to determine the required sacrifice.
1 = 2 HD worth of blood from a specific creature.
2 = 400 gp worth of treasure.
3 = 2 points of the Magician’s Constitution (or other Ability).
4 = 4 Hit Points worth of the Magician’s blood.
Bless
Blight
Detect Evil
Detect Invisible
ESP
Find Traps
Hold Person
Invisibility
Knock
Know Alignment
Levitate
Locate Object
Mirror Image
Phantasmal Force
Silence 15’ Radius
Snake Charm
Speak with Animals
Web
Wizard Lock

3rd LEVEL MAGICIAN SPELLS

3rd Level Incantations
Dispel Magic
Fire Ball
Fly
Growth of Animal
Haste
Hold Person
Invisibility 10’ Radius
Lightning Bolt
Locate Object
Protection from Evil 10’ Radius
Protection from Normal Missiles
Striking

3rd Level CeremoniesRequire 1 ½ hours, + 180 gp worth of materials.
Cause Disease
Clairvoyance
Continual Darkness
Continual Light
Cure Disease
Curse
Infravision *
Remove Curse
Water Breathing *

3rd Level TalismansRequire 1,800 gp of materials, or at least 6 HD of slain magical creatures. Remain charged for 30 days, or until dispelled.
Darkness
Light
Protection from Evil
Read Languages
Read Magic
Speak with Animals

3rd Level Pacts d4 to determine the required sacrifice.
1 = 3 HD worth of blood from a specific creature.
2 = 600 gp worth of treasure.
3 = 3 points of the Magician’s Constitution (or other Ability).
4 = 6 Hit Points worth of the Magician’s blood.
Cause Disease
Clairvoyance
Continual Darkness
Continual Light
Cure Disease
Curse
Dispel Magic
Fire Ball
Fly
Growth of Animal
Haste
Hold Person
Infravision
Invisibility 10’ Radius
Lightning Bolt
Locate Object
Protection from Evil 10’ Radius
Protection from Normal Missiles
Remove Curse
Striking
Water Breathing

4th LEVEL MAGICIAN SPELLS

4th Level Incantations
Charm Monster *
Confusion
Dimension Door
Growth of Plants
Hallucinatory Terrain
Massmorph
Neutralize Poison *
Polymorph Others
Polymorph Self
Speak with Plants
Sticks to Snakes
Wall of Fire
Wall of Ice
Wizard Eye

4th Level Ceremonies Require 2 hours, + 320 gp worth of materials.
Cause Serious Wounds
Create Water
Cure Serious Wounds
Protection from Evil 10’ Radius

4th Level TalismansRequire 3,200 gp of materials, or at least 8 HD of slain magical creatures. Remain charged for 30 days, or until dispelled.
Charm Person (Constant effect)
Cure Disease (Effective Immunity)
Infravision
Remove Curse (Effective Immunity)
Water Beathing

4th Level Pactsd4 to determine the required sacrifice.
1 = 4 HD worth of blood from a specific creature.
2 = 800 gp worth of treasure.
3 = 4 points of the Magician’s Constitution (or other Ability)
4 = 8 Hit Points worth of the Magician’s blood.
Cause Sr. Wounds
Charm Monster
Confusion
Create Water
Cure Serious Wounds
Dimension Door
Growth of Plants
Hallucinatory Terrain
Massmorph
Neutralize Poison
Polymorph Others
Polymorph Self
Protection from Evil 10’ Radius
Speak with Plants
Sticks to Snakes
Wall of Fire
Wall of Ice
Wizard Eye

5th LEVEL MAGICIAN SPELLS

5th Level Incantations
Cloudkill
Feeblemind
Finger of Death
Hold Monster
Insect Plague
Magic Jar
Pass-Wall
Telekinesis
Transmute Rock and Mud
Wall of Stone

5th Level CeremoniesRequire 2 ½ hours, + 500 gp worth of materials.
Animate Dead
Commune
Conjure Elemental *
Contact Higher Plane
Create Food
Dispel Evil *
Raise Dead
Teleport *

5th Level TalismansRequire 5,000 gp of materials, or at least 10 HD of slain magical creatures. Remain charged for 30 days, or until dispelled.
Neutralize Poison (Effective immunity)
Protection from Evil 10’ Radius
Speak with Plants

5th Level Pacts d4 to determine the required sacrifice.
1 = 5 HD worth of blood from a specific creature.
2 = 1,000 gp worth of treasure.
3 = 5 points of the Magician’s Constitution (or other Ability)
4 = 10 Hit Points worth of the Magician’s blood.
Animate Dead
Cloudkill
Commune
Conjure Elemental
Contact Higher Plane
Create Food
Dispel Evil
Feeblemind
Finger of Death
Hold Monster
Insect Plague
Magic Jar
Pass-Wall
Raise Dead
Telekinesis
Teleport
Transmute Rock and Mud
Wall of Stone

6th LEVEL MAGICIAN SPELLS

6th Level Incantations
Anti-Magic Shell
Death Spell
Disintegrate
Geas
Lower Water
Move Earth
Part Water
Projected Image
Stone to Flesh

6th Level CeremoniesRequire 3 hours, + 720 gp worth of materials.Control Weather (Can be cast on a disant location, if the Magician has a handful of soil or rocks from it, or something belonging to a person currently there.)
Stone to Flesh *
Invisible Stalker
Reincarnation *
Remove Geas

6th Level Talismans Require 7,200 gp of materials, or at least 12 HD of slain magical creatures. Remain charged for 30 days, or until dispelled.
Create Food (Character can survive without eating as long as they wear the Talisman.)
Raise Dead (Character is automatically Raised if killed, as if the spell was immediately cast on them)
Remove Geas (Effective immunity)
Stone to Flesh (Immunity to Petrification)
Telekinesis

6th Level Pacts – d4 to determine the required sacrifice.
1 = 6 HD worth of blood from a specific creature.
2 = 1,200 gp worth of treasure.
3 = 6 points of the Magician’s Constitution (or other Ability)
4 = 12 Hit Points worth of the Magician’s blood.
Anti-Magic Shell
Control Weather
Death Spell
Disintegrate
Flesh to Stone
Geas
Invisible Stalker
Lower Water
Move Earth
Part Water
Projected Image
Remove Geas
Stone to Flesh

The Cyclops Spider – A Monster from Panzoasia

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This week I thought I would return to my B/X – BECMI Campaign word of Panzoasia, with a whimsically creepy denizen of the Underworld.

Cyclops Spider

Number Appearing: 1 (10% chance of 2 – 4 in lair)
Size: Medium (5’ long body, 10’ maximum leg spread.)
Alignment: Neutral
Morale: Average
Intelligence: 10
Move:
Walks at 1 ½ x human speed.
Climbs at 1 ½ x human speed.
Armor Class: 3 better than unarmored.
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks & Damage: Bite (1d6 + Paralyzing Venom), or shoot Blinding Light.
Special:
* Infravision: 180’
* Illuminating Eye: Equal to a Light spell, but affecting other subterranean natives as actual daylight.
* Blinding Light: 1 target with 300’ must Save versus Wands or be blinded for 1d6 Rounds.
* Paralyzing Venom: Victim must Save versus Paralyzation or be unable to move for 1 Turn.
* Climbing: can scale vertical walls, and crawl across ceilings, even if slimy or slippery.
* Move Silently: as a 9th Level Thief.
Saves: As Thief 4
Treasure: 900gp value of weapons, armor, jewelry, adventuring equipment, and various curios, + 25% chance of a random magical item.
Challenge: Four 3rd Level Characters

The Cyclops Spider is an intelligent Underworld predator perfectly adapted to hunting its subterranean prey. At first glance it simply resembles a rather colorful giant spider, but a second look will reveal the bizarre differences. Instead of the numerous eyes of “normal” giant spider, the Cyclops Spider possess a single, large one resembling that of a human – with a blue iris and bloodshot sclera. In place of a spider’s fangs the creature has a grinning mouth filled with needle-sharp teeth, and a bright pink tongue. The spider’s body is covered with hair, in a green-and-purple striped pattern. Each of its eight legs ends in a hand-like arrangement of three, segmented fingers – with which the spider can pick up and employ objects.

The Cyclops Spider is most noted for its ability to emit bright light from its single eye, on account of which it also called a Lantern Spider. This light is just as debilitating as daylight to to those subterranean creatures who are sensitive to it (such as Goblins). The creature can also focus the light from its eye into a concentrated beam capable of temporarily blinding even creatures from the surface world. While the Cyclops Spider does not build webs, its paralyzing venom and ability to emit debilitating light ensures that it can obtain its favorite food – small subterranean humanoids.

Cyclops Spiders are as intelligent as humans, and can speak the language common to all sentient arachnids as soon as they hatch. They can also learn and speak humanoid languages (including Common), which they sometimes do in order to taunt their prey. Their lair (or “parlor”) will always be in a small cavern accessible only by climbing. There they store and display the treasure they collect from their victims. They place no value on coins, however, and do not collect them. Although generally solitary, they will occasional play host to one another, at which time they will show off particularly interesting objects from their collections. Cyclops Spiders are unique among arachnids for preferring to sleep on colorful, stuffed cushions, which they obtain in their infrequent raids on the surface world.

Hitchhikers of the Uncanny Highway – U.S. Route 28

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Hitchhiker with his dog on U.S. 66 (1972)

This is the third post in the series on U.S. Route 28, road of the lost and damned. Like the other random tables in the series, these are intended to reflect a mid-60s to mid-70s America where the all the urban legends are true – and the crazy preacher on the radio might just be right to believe Satan has taken over the P.T.A.!

The 60s and 70s were, of course, the Golden Age of hitchhiking in America, when almost every stretch of roadway would feature someone trying to thumb a ride. Naturally, U.S. Route 28 has its fair share of hitchhikers – not all of whom completely qualify as human beings!

d20

On the side of the road is what appears to be…

1 – 4

1d4 hippies (Flip coin for gender. Ages are d12+13.)

5 – 7

1d4 backpacking college student(s). (Flip coin for gender. Ages are d4+17.)

8 – 10

1d4 ordinary High School students (Flip coins for genders. Ages are d4+13.)

11

a biker next to a broken down motorcycle. (50% chance the encounter is with what appears to be a male biker, and either his “Old Lady” or one of his club’s “Mamas”. If the driver is a biker, there is a 25% chance the stranded biker is from a rival club. Bikers will almost always refuse to abandon their bikes, and usually only flag down drivers in pickup trucks or vans.)

12

a couple next to a broken down car.

13

a family next to a broken-down car.

14

a group of musicians next to a broken-down van.

15

a policeman next to his broken-down car.

16

a soldier.

17

a lone man.

18

a lone woman.

19

a man and a dog.

20

a woman and a dog.

d100

The apparent ethnic origin of the hitchhiker(s) is/are…

1 – 80

“White” American (d12: 1 – 5 = No distinct ethnicity. 6 – 7 = German-American. 8 – 9 = Irish-American. 10 = Italian-American. 11 = Polish-American. 12 = Jewish American [Jewish Americans of the 1960s and 70s were overwhelmingly Ashkenazi].)

81 – 94

African American (Black)

95

Hispanic or West Indian (d6: 1 – 2 = Mexican-American. 2 = Puerto Rican. 3 = Cuban. 4 = Brazilian or South American. 6 = Jamaican-American, or other black West Indian ethnicity.)

96

Asian American (d6: 1 = Filipino-American. 2 = Chinese-American. 3 = Japanese-American. 4 = Korean-American. 5 = Vietnamese-American or Southeast Asian. 6 = Indian-American or Pakistani-American.)

97

Middle-Eastern (d4: 1 = Lebanese-American. 2 = Armenian-American. 3 = Turkish-American. 4 = Palestinian-American.)

98

Native American (d10: 1 = Navaho. 2 = Cherokee. 3 = Apache. 4 = Sioux. 5 = Iroquois. 6 = Chocktaw. 7 = Chippewa. 8 = Cree. 9 = Blackfoot. 10 = Pueblo.)

99 – 100

Foreign. (d20: 1 = Canadian [25% chance to be French-Canadian]. 2 = English. 3 = Scottish. 5 – 6 = Irish. 7 = Australian. 8 – 11 = Continental European. 12 = Middle Eastern. 13 = Indian or Pakistani. 14 – 15 = East Asian. 16 = Pacific Islander. 17 = Sub-Saharan African. 18 = Mexican. 19 = Central American [other than Mexican]. 20 = South American.)

Naturally, the above table is weighted towards the demographics of the United States in the period from the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s.

d12

They want to be taken…

1 – 2

to the nearest motel.

3 – 4

to the nearest gas station / truck stop.

5

to the nearest eatery.

6

to the nearest intersection.

7

to the nearest town.

8

to the nearest city.

9

anywhere you’re going.

10

across the county line.

11

across the state line.

12

someplace inexplicable.

d12

In return for the ride, the driver will be offered

1 – 4

only thanks.

5

their favorite songs.

6

sexual favors. (Roll again if a child is present.)

7

drugs.

8

money for gas.

9

the story (or stories) of the hitchhiker’s (or lives).

10

a strange trinket.

11

the good news of Jesus Christ.

12

the teachings of the hitchhiker’s Guru.

d20

Their actual intent is…

1 – 10

just to get where they say they are going.

11

recruitment into a cult. (10% chance the cult is murderous, or otherwise criminal in its behavior.)

12

robbery.

13

assault.

14

murder. (5% chance the hitchhiker is a Vampyre or Werewolf.)

15

to surreptitiously drug people as part of a CIA mind-control experiment.

16

to pass on their magical power.

17

to free themselves of a curse.

18

to make a human sacrifice to Satan (or some other power of evil).

19

to reveal a disturbing prophesy. (10% chance to be a “phantom hitchhiker” – or a group of phantom hitchhikers – who will disappear once they arrive at their stated destination.)

20

to conduct bizarre experiments on human beings, because they are actually a disguised extraterrestrial (or group of extraterrestrials).

d100

Notably, this hitchhiker…

1 – 4

is a natural blonde. (Or, has straightened hair, if African American.)

5 – 8

wears glasses.

9 – 10

is a natural redhead (Or, has an “afro”, if African American.)

11 – 12

is strikingly attractive.

13 – 14

is very muscular (or buxom). (Roll again if a child.)

15 – 16

has extremely long hair. (If a male policeman or soldier, they have a prominent mustache.)

17 – 18

is unusually pale for their apparent ethnicity.

19 – 20

is very unkempt.

21 – 22

looks younger than their stated age.

23 – 24

looks older than their stated age.

25 – 26

smells unusually good.

27 – 28

has a foul body odor.

29 – 30

has a smooth, velvety voice.

31 – 32

has a rough, gruff voice.

33 – 34

speaks crudely.

35 – 36

speaks eloquently.

37 – 38

is very rude (or brazen).

39 – 40

is extremely polite.

41 – 42

speaks pretentiously. (Or precociously, if a child.)

43 – 44

is seemingly overdressed for the weather.

45 – 46

is wearing a lot of jewelry.

47 – 48

is wearing a strange amulet or religious medal.

49 – 50

is heavily tattooed. (Note: it is rare for women not associated with bikers to have obvious tattoos in the 1960s and 70s.)

51 – 52

matches the description of a wanted criminal. (The person is wanted for: 1 = murder. 2 = bank robbery. 3 = sex offenses. 4 = kidnapping. Roll again if a child.)

53 – 54

is wearing a suit / formal attire.

55 – 56

looks exactly like someone famous. (5% chance they actually are that person)

57 – 58

appears to be very nervous.

59 – 60

is very standoffish.

61 – 62

has no concept of personal space.

63 – 64

avoids all questions about their past. (Roll again if they have offered to tell the story of their life in return for the ride!)

65 – 66

is wearing as little clothing as possible.

67 – 68

won’t look at you when they speak.

69 – 70

stares right into your eyes when they speak.

71 – 72

is wearing what looks like a Halloween costume. (If the hitchhiker is in uniform, they are wearing a Halloween mask.)

73 – 74

has horrible teeth.

75 – 76

is wearing clothing that seems a size too small.

77 – 78

is wearing very loose clothing.

79 – 80

is very fashionable.

81 – 82

is wearing a fashion (or a hairstyle) that seems at least a decade out of date.

83 – 84

claims to have had an encounter with a UFO.

85 – 86

is very bigoted.

87 – 88

is extraordinarily tolerant and liberal in their views.

89 – 90

is outspokenly in favor of the Vietnam War (Roll again if a Hippie.)

91 – 92

is outspokenly opposed to the Vietnam War.

93 – 94

constantly claims to see things no one else notices.

95

has two different color eyes.

96

is on crutches

97

has only one eye.

98

is missing a hand.

99

is missing an arm.

100

is completely bald. (90% likely to be wearing a wig.)

Billboards and Eateries of the Uncanny Highway – U.S. Route 28

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Welcome back to the series on the “Uncanny Highway”. It’s good to be back here posting after such a long hiatus! So, without further ado, here’s some generators for the tasteless billboards and strange eateries that line that corridor of Hell on Earth known as U.S. Route 28!

BILLBOARDS OF THE UNCANNY HIGHWAY

d20

The Billboard appears to advertise a local…

1 – 2

Eatery.

3 – 4

Bar.

5 – 6

Amusement or Theme Park.

7 – 8

Truck Stop. (With gas, a weigh station, showers, and a restaurant.)

9 – 10

Motel.

11

Political Candidate.

12

Gas Station.

13

Souvenir Shop.

14

Monument.

15

Roadside Museum.

16

Trailer Park.

17

Drive-In Theater.

18

Car Dealership.

19

Church.

20

“Mystery Spot”.

d12

The main image on the Billboard depicts…

1 – 2

the proprietor of the establishment, (Alternately, the Political Candidate, or pastor of the advertised church.)

3 – 4

a smiling family,

5

a smiling face,

6 – 7

an image of the main product offered, (A hamburger, beer, cross, etc.)

8

a square-jawed man standing tall, (25% chance the man is wearing a cowboy hat.)

9

an anthropomorphic animal mascot,

10

a scantily-clad woman, (Roll again is the Billboard is for a Church. If this result is rolled again, then the Church is, in fact, advertising itself with a scantily-clad woman!)

11

a bald eagle,

12

Jesus holding an object associated with the sign’s subject, (A taco, a souvenir, a rifle, etc.)

d20

…and…

1 – 4

the exterior of the establishment, (Or, the image of the Statehouse or County Courthouse, for a Political Candidate)

5 – 8

a rippling American flag,

9 – 10

stars,

11 – 12

spotlights,

13 – 14

fireworks,

15

a circle of people holding hands,

16

an automobile (or several automobiles),

17

a tree, (50% chance of a cactus instead, if road runs through a desert.)

18

flowers,

19

flying birds,

20

a happy dog,

d20

…against…

1 – 3

a plain white background.

4 – 7

an American flag design.

8 – 9

a local landscape.

10 – 11

a blue sky.

12 – 14

a field of solid color.

15 – 17

a field of gradient color.

18

a checkerboard pattern.

19

a swirly, “psychedelic” design.

20

a field of polka dots.

d6

Besides any directions, the text of the advertisement consist of…

1

a few simple words,

2

a single word,

3

a single, carefully considered slogan,

4

a few disconnected phrases,

5

a few complete sentences,

6

too many words to read while driving past,

d6

…written…

1

in the empty spaces of the design.

2

across the design, almost obscuring it.

3

in white letters, within black bars on the top and bottom of the sign.

4

in “extruded” text meant to look like it is projecting from the sign.

5

within angular geometric shapes.

6

within curvilinear, organic shapes.

d6

The diction used is…

1

unctuous.

2

saccharine.

3

bold and confident.

4

zany.

5

vaguely threatening.

6

dry and matter-of-fact.

d100

Notably, …

1 – 10

the sign is very old and faded.

11 – 20

the sign appears to be quite new.

21 – 30

the colors clash horribly.

31 – 40

the quality of the artwork is shockingly good.

41 – 50

the quality of the artwork is very low.

51 – 55

the sign is defaced with Satanic graffiti.

56 – 60

teenagers have drawn several arrow-pierced hearts on it, along with their initials.

61 – 64

someone has been shooting at the sign.

65 – 68

someone has crudely drawn male genitalia on the sign.

69 – 70

the sign is an unusual shape.

71 – 72

the sign is a pasted sheet that is now peeling away, revealing another image underneath.

73 – 74

someone has left flowers at the the base of the sign. (25% chance each of a teddy bear, photograph, or candle also being present.)

75 – 76

someone has been shooting at the sign.

77 – 78

there is blood spattered on the sign.

79 – 80

someone has written the names of their favorite musical artists on the sign.

81 – 82

someone has written “Murderers” (or “Thieves”) on the sign.

83 – 84

someone has written cabalistic formulas on the sign.

85 – 86

someone has written “Die, Commies!” on the sign.

87 – 88

there are numerous dead birds at the base of the sign.

89 – 90

there is a dead deer at the base of the sign.

91 – 92

someone appears to be camped out underneath the sign.

93 – 94

there is an abandoned car underneath the sign.

95 – 96

there is an abandoned motorcycle underneath the sign.

97 – 98

the address given is impossible. (The indicated town doesn’t exist, the street number is too high to be real, etc.)

99 – 100

no address or directions are given.

 


 

ROADSIDE EATERIES OF THE UNCANNY HIGHWAY

d100

The roadside sign outside the eatery is…

1 – 15

unexceptional.

16 – 30

neon.

31 – 36

nothing but a painted A-frame sign.

37 – 42

three-sided.

43 – 48

painted on a rotating drum.

49 – 54

enclosed by a frame of white light bulbs.

55 – 60

enclosed by a frame of colored light bulbs.

61 – 62

apparently missing (there is an empty pole where it should be attached)

63 – 64

completely illegible.

65 – 66

spotlit 24 hours a day.

67 – 68

painted in “psychedelic” style, with organically-shaped letters and bright colors.

69 – 70

held by a giant chicken.

71 – 72

painted across a giant hamburger atop a pole.

73 – 74

held by a giant, anthropomorphic hamburger.

75 – 76

painted across a giant hotdog on a pole.

77 – 78

held by a giant anthropomorphic hotdog.

79 – 81

painted across a giant milkshake.

81 – 82

painted across a giant fish atop a pole.

83 – 84

held by an anthropomorphic fish.

85 – 86

held by a giant pig in a chef’s outfit.

87 – 88

on a board underneath an anthropomorphic pig, carving itself into chops.

89 – 90

painted across a giant, anthropomorphic ear of corn.

91 – 92

painted vertically on the side of a rocket.

93 – 94

designed to resemble a medieval coat-of-arms.

95 – 96

held by a giant woman. (d4: 1 = Bikini-clad. 2 = Ethnic outfit. 3 = Cowgirl. 4 = Maid)

97 – 98

held by a giant cowboy.

99 – 100

held by a stereotypical Native American with a feathered headdress.

Note: If the sign seems wholly inappropriate for the establishment, either roll again, or assume that the current eatery simply re-purposed the sign from the restaurant that occupied the building previously.

d100

The exterior of the building is…

1 – 40

perfectly ordinary.

41 – 45

just an old house (or barn) converted into a restaurant.

46 – 50

a sleek Art-Deco design of chrome and glass.

51 – 55

a Space-Age, “Googie” design.

56 – 60

a boxy, brick structure that may once have been a warehouse.

61 – 65

a giant windmill

66 – 70

a sailing ship (complete with masts),

71 – 74

an old railway car.

75 – 76

a converted bus.

77 – 78

a log cabin.

79 – 80

a faux castle.

81 – 82

a Chinese pagoda.

83 – 84

a giant tee-pee.

85 – 86

a giant egg.

87 – 89

a giant melon.

90 – 91

a giant apple.

92 – 93

a head wearing a cowboy hat. (Entrance is through the open mouth.)

94 – 95

a giant hamburger.

96 – 96

a giant, upright ear of corn.

97 – 98

a train car.

99 – 100

an Egyptian pyramid.

Note: As with the sign, if the shape of the building seems wholly inappropriate for the establishment, either roll again, or assume that the eatery is located inside a building actually created for a completely different type of restaurant.

d6

The condition of the building is…

1

excellent.

2

generally good.

3

poor due to neglect.

4

poor due to obvious vandalism.

5

badly weathered.

6

mostly good, but there are bullet holes in the side.

d10

The parking lot is…

1

very small, but only partially filled.

2

very small, and completely filled.

3

moderately sized, and largely empty.

4

moderately sized, and half empty.

5

moderately sized, but mostly filled.

6

large, and largely empty.

7

large, and half-filled.

8 – 9

large, because this is a drive-in restaurant. (Once a customer parks, waitstaff will appear in 1d6 minutes. 50% likely the waitstaff is on roller-skates.)

10

large, half-filled, and evidently a popular place for teenagers to congregate. (There are 2d4 apparently ordinary teenagers loitering about one or two cars.)

d10

The interior is…

1 – 3

wood paneling,

4 – 5

painted wood paneling,

6

bare brick,

7

faux stone,

8 – 9

wallpapered.,

10 – 11

filled with mementos of local community members,

12

plastered with newspapers,

d8

…and it is..

1 – 3

clean, well-maintained, and brightly-lit.

4 – 5

clean and well-maintained, but dimly-lit.

6

apparently clean, but there is a strange odor.

7

dingy and neglected.

8

filthy and obviously vermin-infested.

d12

The food served is primarily…

1 – 2

local-style home-cooking.

3 – 4

battered and deep-fried.

5 – 6

hamburgers and hot dogs.

7

barbeque.

8

Soul Food.

9

a challenging local specialty. (Rocky Mountain Oysters, Scrapple, Head Cheese, etc.)

10

pizzeria fare.

11

Chinese-American.

12

Tex-Mex.

d10

The staff is…

1

complete nondescript – in fact, it’s hard to remember what they even look like!

2

a motley crew, no two of whom resemble each other at all.

3

oddly similar in appearance.

4

wearing archaic uniforms.

5

all unusually old.

6

all unusually young.

7

all of a single ethnic background (other than white American).

8

unusually pale and sickly-looking.

9

strangely lethargic.

10

frighteningly energetic.

d20

The bathroom is…

1 – 3

clean and bright.

4 – 5

clean, but drab.

6 – 7

dreary.

8

disgustingly foul, and looks like it is seldom cleaned.

9 – 10

very dimly-lit.

11

covered in graffiti.

12 – 13

decorated in a nautical theme.

14

covered in newspapers.

15

in the middle of a renovation.

16

oddly modern and fashionable for a roadside establishment.

17 – 18

a mess, from what looks like a recent fight or struggle.

19

spattered with fresh blood.

20

literally a gateway to Hell.

d100

The other patrons of the eatery include…

1 – 8

an average family. (A father, a mother, and 1d4 children. 25% chance the children are running around, annoying other patrons.)

9 – 12

an obviously abusive man and his terrified family.

13 – 16

a uniformed policeman.

17 – 20

2 men in suits eating together. (50% chance to be homicide detectives working a case)

21 – 24

1d12 biker(s).

25 – 28

1d4 sportspeople. (Hunter(s), fisher(s), hiker(s), mountain climber(s), etc.)

29 – 32

1d4 nun(s).

33 – 36

1d4 workmen eating together.

37 – 40

a male trucker eating alone.

41 – 44

a male trucker eating with a woman (d100: 1 – 50 = woman is the trucker’s wife or girlfriend. 51 – 75: woman is a prostitute. 76 – 100: woman is a hitchhiker.)

45 – 48

a group of 2d4 religious fanatics.

49 – 52

1d6 hippies. (Or other counter-cultural types.)

53 – 56

a nondescript man eating alone. (2% chance he is a serial killer. 25% chance he is a traveling salesman. He may be a serial-killer traveling salesman.)

57 – 60

a nondescript woman eating alone. (10% chance she is pregnant. 1% chance she is a serial killer. She may be a pregnant serial-killer.)

61 – 64

a group of 1d4+1 ordinary teenagers. (25% likely to be hitchhiking.)

65 – 68

a group of 1d4+1 middle-aged women.

69 – 72

A bruised woman, not eating anything. (d6 to determine who assaulted her: 1 = her husband. 2 = her pimp. 3 = a random person. 4 = a rogue highway patrolman. 5 = a supernatural creature. 6 = nobody – she was in an accident.)

73 – 76

a well-dressed man and woman. (10% chance they are about to rob the place. 1% chance they are a serial-killing couple.)

77 – 80

a shabbily dressed man and woman. (5% chance they are about to rob the place. 1% chance they are a serial-killing couple.)

81 – 84

a dangerous-looking man who stares at the other patrons. (2% chance he is a serial killer. 10% chance he is an escaped lunatic.)

85 – 88

an obviously drunk man.

89 – 92

an obvious pimp with 1d4 prostitutes. (Prostitutes are 12+d20 years old.)

93 – 96

a runaway teenage girl. (75% likely to be looking for a ride. 25% chance she is pregnant.)

97 – 100

a runaway teenage boy. (75% likely to be looking for a ride.)

Roll 1d4 times if the parking lot is small, 1d8 times if the parking lot is moderately sized, and 2d12 times if the parking lot is large.

d100

The most shocking fact about the place is…

1 – 10

only that the wait staff are paid “off the books”.

11 – 16

the food is actually better than any fancy restaurant.

17 – 18

the food is vile, and it is a wonder how it stays in business.

19 – 20

it is haunted by the ghost of its former owner.

21 – 22

it is haunted by the ghost of a teenage girl who died on her prom night.

23 – 24

it is haunted by the ghost of a former employee.

25 – 26

it is haunted by the ghosts of the animals served there!

27 – 30

the proprietor seems to be barely out of High School.

31 – 33

it is infested with vermin.

34 – 36

the owner serves old food that is close to spoiling.

37 – 40

the cook was actually once the personal chef of someone famous.

41 – 43

a well-known celebrity often dines here incognito.

44 – 46

it was once the scene of a mass-murder.

47 – 50

it is built directly atop a Native American burial ground.

51 – 53

it has failed every health inspection, and survives through the bribery of county officials.

54 – 56

it is a front for drug dealing.

57 – 60

it is a front for prostitution.

61 – 63

it is a front for contract murder.

64 – 66

it is simply a money laundering operation for its owners.

67 – 70

murder victims are buried under the floor.

71 – 73

the food of some patrons is drugged, so they can be handed over to an international human trafficking network.

74 – 76

the food of some patrons is drugged so their kidneys can be harvested.

77 – 79

the owners are members of a satanic cult.

80 – 83

it is used as meeting place by violent racists.

84 – 86

it is used as meeting place by Soviet agents.

87 – 91

it is part of a CIA mind-control experiment.

90 – 92

it is actually the resting place of a Vampyre (or pack of Vampyres).

93 – 95

the wait staff are actually trafficked people working against their will.

96 – 98

the meat served is not from the animals claimed – but at least its not human!

99

it serves human flesh to everyone.

100

there is a secret back room / underground chamber where human flesh is served to a select clientele.

 

Driving the Uncanny Highway – U.S. Route 28

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Officially, of course, there is no U.S. Route 28. Don’t try to locate it on any map or road atlas – you will not find it. Yet it exist, and sections of it seems to wind improbably through every state of the continental U.S. Just as strangely, its meandering path somehow avoids every major city. Exits for U.S. Route 28 can be found along every Interstate, yet a person can drive their entire life and never see one.

The missing, the lost, and the desperate haunt Route 28. They inhabit its odd motels, staff its bizarre roadside museums, and drink in its shadowy bars. Most who pass along the road continue on to their destinations in blissful ignorance. But an unlucky few learn the full extent of the horrors that lurk amid its truck-stops and diners.

These tables are the beginning of a “road-trip” setting for Groovy Ghastly Affair, but anyone gaming in a Weird Americana environment could use them. Naturally, they assume a time-frame of the Swinging Sixties and Groovy Seventies, when one would still encounter hitchhikers, and before the highways of America were completely consumed by the corporate chains that dominate them today.

GENERAL PROCEDURE

1) Every 10 minutes, roll 1d10 times on Table 1: NEARBY VEHICLES.

2) For every 10 minutes of travel in-game, roll on Table 2a: ORDINARY HIGHWAY FEATURE, or table 2b: Table 2b: ORDINARY BACK ROAD FEATURE.

3) For every 30 minutes of travel in-game, roll on Table 3: NOTABLE ROADSIDE ATTRACTION.

4) For every hour of travel in-game, roll on Table 4: CHALLENGING ROAD EVENT.

5) If players turn on the radio, roll on Table 5: RADIO STATIONS OF THE UNCANNY HIGHWAY.

 

Table 1: NEARBY VEHICLES (roll 1d10 times)

d12

The nearby vehicle is a…

1

pickup truck,

2

station wagon,

3

two-door coupe,

4

convertible coupe,

5

four-door sedan,

6

sports car,

7

compact car,

8

motorcycle,

9

delivery truck, or utility vehicle,

10

van,

11

luxury car,

12

“Bug”,

d20

…painted…

1 – 2

black.

3 – 4

white.

5 – 6

dark blue.

7 – 8

metallic gray.

9

cherry red.

10

burgundy

11

brown.

12

sky blue.

13

blue-green.

14

bright yellow.

15

mustard yellow.

16

orange.

17

forest green.

18

lime green

19

pink.

20

purple.

Roll a d20 to determine the age of the car.

Encounters with Buses, Tractor Trailers, Classic Cars, and Hot Rods are considered potentially challenging Road Events, whose occurrence is determined on Table 4.

Table 2a: ORDINARY HIGHWAY FEATURE (roll every 10 minutes on a highway)

d20

Ahead, there is…

1 – 4

apparently just this same stretch of highway.

5

a curve in the road

6

a train trestle overhead (5% chance something falls or is thrown from the trestle)

7

a 3-way intersection

8

a 4-way intersection.

9

a cloverleaf.

10

a u-turn junction.

11

an elevated section.

12 – 13

a split in the road.

13

a truck weigh station (with no other facilities).

14 – 15

an exit for a two-lane Back Road.

16 – 18

an exit for a small town. (population d100 x 100)

19

an exit for a college town. (population 2d20 x 1000)

20

an exit for a small city. (population 3d20 x 1000)

 

Table 2b: ORDINARY BACK ROAD FEATURE (roll every 10 minutes on a back road)

d12

Ahead, there is…

1

apparently just this same stretch of road.

2

a curve in the road

3

a bridge over a stream (or dry river bed)

4

a railroad crossing

5

a split in the road.

6

a foot path leading from the road into the countryside.

7

a crossroads.

8

a state park.

9

a national park.

10 – 11

a small town. (population d100 x 100)

12

an exit back onto the Highway.

 

Table 3: NOTABLE ROADSIDE ATTRACTION (roll every ½ Hour)

d20

On the side of the road you see a…

1

Hitchhiker.

2

Animal.

3

Farm Stand.

4

Abandoned Vehicle.

5

Odd Billboard.

6

Strange House.

7

Quirky Eatery.

8

Bar / Roadhouse.

9

Gas Station.

10

Mysterious, Unmarked Road Exit.

11

Truck Stop (Gas, Weigh Station, Showers, Restaurant).

12

Motel.

13

Souvenir Shop.

14

Monument / Shrine.

15

Amusement/Theme Park.

16

Roadside Museum.

17

Trailer Park.

18

Drive-In Theater.

19

Church.

20

“Mystery Spot” or “Gravity Hill”.

 

Table 4: CHALLENGING ROAD EVENT (roll every Hour)

d12+d8

Suddenly…

2

a person in back seat of nearby car appears to be calling for help.

3

your car blows a tire.

4

a bird flies into your windshield, or a gun is fired at your car.

5

road garbage flies at your windshield.

6

a flirty (or exhibitionist) driver pulls up next to you.

7

you encounter a rough patch of road.

8

you see a distracting custom car, or hot rod (50% chance owner wants to race).

9

you see a distractingly decorated “hippie van”. (d8. Occupants are 1 = “deadheads”, 2 = a marijuana smuggling operation, 3 = drug-crazed murderers, 4 = sex cultists, 5 = neo-pagan witches, 6 = ordinary college students, 7 = actually government agents, 8 = “meddling kids” out to solve mysteries.)

10

you encounter a gang of 2d12 biker(s) traveling together.

11

you see loaded tractor-trailer ahead.

12

a driver ahead is going far too slow.

13

an aggressive driver cuts you off.

14

there’s a speed trap (with waiting Police car.)

15

you see a bus (d4: 1 = travelers, 2 = nuns, 3 = musicians on tour, 4 = prisoner transport).

16

a drunk driver starts crossing lanes.

17

an animal or person runs into road. (Person has a 50% chance each of being: a) nude, b) blood-spattered, c) incoherent, d) on the run from a psycho-killer; e) a kidnapping victim fleeing their captor.)

18

objects fall from the bed of a truck ahead of you.

19

a nearby driver loses control of their car.

20

the road becomes impassible. (d4 1 = car crash, 2 = tree (or utility pole) fallen across road, 3 = flooded road, 4 = sinkhole.)

Challenging road Events will generally require some kind of Ability Check to avoid trouble, or an accident.

Table 5: RADIO STATIONS OF THE UNCANNY HIGHWAY (1d6 stations for every 1 hour stretch driving on highway or road)

d20

Searching the dial, you find a station broadcasting…

1 – 2

Rock n’ Roll,

3 – 4

News,

5 – 6

Country Music,

7

Soul.

8

Jazz,

9

Blues,

10

Easy Listening,

11

Oldies, (Rockabilly, Doo-Wop, 50s Rock n’ Roll)

12

Big Band Swing,

13

Polka,

14

an interview with a local celebrity,

15

Public Radio educational shows,

16

Christian music,

17

a bizarre sermon, (Roll on Table 6a.)

18

an insane conspiracy theory, (Roll on Table 6b.)

19

songs that seems to be soundtrack for your current day,

20

music in an unknown language,

d20

and the DJ / announcer sounds…

1

bored.

2

drunk.

3

giddy.

4

drunk.

5

stoned.

6

frenetic.

7

monotone.

8

enthusiastic.

9

dimwitted.

10

incoherent.

11

insane.

12

halting.

13

smooth.

14

sleazy.

15

foreign.

16

snobby.

17

very young.

18

elderly.

19

lisping.

20

familiar – you know that voice.

Note: The call signs of American Radio stations are four-letter codes. A call-sign for a station west of the Mississippi River has “K” as the first letter in its sign, while one east of the Mississippi begins with “W”.

Table 6a: BIZARRE SERMONS ON THE RADIO

d20

The apparent topic of this preacher’s sermon is…

1

Jesus wants you to send me your money.

2

Vietnam is/was a Holy War to save Christianity.

3

The richer you are, the more Jesus loves you.

4

The Lava Lamp – an idol of Satan!

5

Tithing is more important than eating.

6

The End Times are here now.

7

All true modern science is foreshadowed in the Bible.

8

Evolution is a lie.

9

Jesus, the investor.

10

Meditation is Devil Worship.

11

Elections are pointless, because God selects our leaders.

12

Richard Nixon – God’s Chosen One!

13

The U.F.Os are demons in disguise.

14

The Pope is the Antichrist.

15

God is an American, and always has been.

16

Football is God’s favorite sport.

17

All Rock n’ Roll songs are written by Satan.

18

Christians should only use “Biblical” medicine.

19

The Barbie Doll is the Whore of Babylon.

20

American Christians are the true Israelites.

 

Table 6b: BIZARRE CONSPIRACY THEORIES ON THE RADIO

d20

As much as you can make sense of it, this person is ranting about…

1

the Rothschild family.

2

the “Trilateral Commission”.

3

Feminists trying to destroy the American family.

4

the “Campus Communists”.

5

the “Eastern Bankers”.

6

the “Bilderbergers”.

7

the Illuminati conspiring with Space Aliens to impose Communism on America.

8

the “Liberal Media”.

9

the United Nations, and their plan to occupy America.

10

the coming Ice Age.

11

the British Royal Family.

12

the “International Satanic Conspiracy”.

13

how Satanists control local government.

14

the “Homosexual Agenda”.

15

the Communists in Hollywood.

16

C.I.A. mind control.

17

Soviet Agents in Congress.

18

how the Jesuits created Communism.

19

the “Bohemian Grove”.

20

fluoridated water being a Communist plot.


Coming up: Tables for determining characteristics of hitchhikers, quirky eateries, strange amusement parks, and more.

Doctor Polidori – A Historical NPC for Ghastly Affair

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John PolidoriPresenting the Father of the Modern Vampire, Doctor John Polidori. Although eclipsed in fame by the great authors and poets with whom he associated, it was nonetheless Doctor Polidori who was responsible for establishing the image of the vampire as a dashing, sexually irresistible aristocrat. Of course, Polidori’s bloodsucking “Lord Ruthven” was meant as a satire of the Doctor’s infamous employer, Lord Byron!

 

Doctor Polidori (June 16, 1816)

Lord Byron’s personal physician, and future author of “The Vampyre”

Full Name: Doctor John William Polidori
Aliases: John Polidori, Dr. Polidori
Class: Everyman
Level: 4
Appearance/Most Memorable Characteristic: A handsome young man of Mediterranean mien. He seems to be favoring one leg when he walks.
Age: 20

Charisma: 10 Intelligence: 16 Wisdom: 13
Strength: 9 Dexterity: 9 Constitution: 8
Perversity: 10
Assets: Handsome, Fast Learner, Natural Artistic Talent (drawing)
Afflictions: Sprained Ankle (temporary), Hot-tempered, Prone to Sickness, Compulsive Gambler

Speed: 9
Hit Points: 26
Attacks: 1 pistol, or caustic chemical splash.
Damage Bonus: +1

Special Abilities: Profession (+1): Physician | Avocation (+1): Writer | Affection (+1): Art | Academic Credentials (as the Mad Scientist Special Ability, instead of an Inheritance) | Social Contacts: Lord Byron (poet, employer); Mary Shelley (aspiring writer, recent acquaintance); Percy Shelley (poet, recent acquaintance); Claire Clairmont (Mary Shelley’s stepsister, recent acquaintance); John Murray (Byron’s publisher); Sir Henry Halford (King George III’s Physician-in-Ordinary); Gaetano Polidori (father); Frances Polidori (sister); John Soane (son of no-classical architect Sir John Soane).
Weaknesses: Phobia: Being Overlooked (Athazagoraphobia) | Prejudice: Homely People

Typical Equipment Carried: Stylish clothes, leather physician’s satchel (with vials of various chemicals), notebook, 1000p in local currency (55 Swiss francs).
Residence: The Villa Diodati, Lord’ Byron’s’ rented Villa on the shore of Lake Geneva.

Background:

  • September 7, 1795: John William Polidori was born in London. His father was the Italian author and translator Gaetano Polidori. His English mother Anna Maria had been a governess.
  • 1804: John began school at Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire. The school, run by Benedictine Monks, eventually became one of the premiere institutions educating the British Catholic elite.
  • 1810: Child prodigy John Polidori entered the University of Edinburgh to study medicine at the age of 15.
  • 1814: John graduated from Edinburgh University, writing his thesis on somnambulism (sleep-walking). At 19, John was the youngest person to ever to graduate from the school with a medical degree.
  • April, 1816: Lord Byron hired Polidori to be his personal physician and traveling companion, on the recommendation of Sir Henry Halford. Shortly thereafter John is contracted by Lord Byron’s publisher John Murray to keep a diary of his travels with Byron, for £500.
  • April 25, 1816: Doctor Polidori and Lord Byron sailed from Dover towards Ostend, accompanied by three servants.
  • April 26, 1816: Doctor Polidori and Lord Byron arrived in Ostend, and took lodgings. John immediately witnessed Lord Byron’s sexually predatory behavior, writing “As soon as he reached his room, Lord Byron fell like a thunderbolt upon the chambermaid.” The pair set out with their servants for Switzerland the next morning. Lord Byron’s elegant carriage, brought over from England and overburdened with his possessions, broke down almost constantly along the way.
  • May 24, 1816: At Morat, John and Lord Byron stole bones from a ruined ossuary holding the remains of 15th century Burgundian soldiers.
  • May 26, 1816: Doctor Polidori and Lord Byron reached the outskirts of Geneva, Switzerland around midnight. They took lodgings in the Hôtel de l’Anglerre, popular with traveling Englishmen.
  • May 27, 1816: After boating with Lord Byron on Lake Geneva, Doctor Polidori met Mary Godwin, Claire Clairmont, and Percy Shelley, who by Claire’s connivance had been waiting on the shore. Mary and Percy initially mistook John for Lord Byron. Byron was not pleased to see Claire, but nonetheless invited her, Percy, and Mary to dinner that night.
  • June 2, 1816: John began giving Mary Godwin lessons in Italian (the Tuscan dialect), and took her son William to be vaccinated against smallpox.
  • June 10, 1816: John moved into the Villa Diodati with Lord Byron. Percy Shelly and Lord Byron became increasingly abusive towards Doctor Polidori, referring to him as “PollyDolly”, mocking his affection for a local girl, disparaging his writings, and otherwise goading him into angry outbursts whenever possible.
  • June 15, 1816: John severely sprained his ankle after being cajoled by Lord Byron into leaping from a wall in order to escort Mary Godwin up a slippery, rain-slicked path. That night, he had a conversation with Percy Shelly about the principles of life, and whether human life should be considered as a mechanical or spiritual process – “whether man was to be thought merely an instrument”.
  • June 16, 1816: Lord Byron challenges the group, forced inside by the inclement weather, to write ghost stories. Several days later Doctor Polidori will begin work on a ghost story, but not “The Vampyre”.

Personality and Role-Playing Notes:

Doctor Polidori is hung-strung, and quick to take offense. Consequently, he is always being goaded and needled by the sadistic Lord Byron. He loves art, but has strong opinions on aesthetics, and can be extremely judgmental of peoples’ appearances. Doctor Polidori is immensely proud of his academic achievements, and often annoyed by the way others seem to fawn over his employer. Polidori will quick to point out he is a physician, not a surgeon (which is a much lower status position in the early 19th century). He has a great fear of being ignored, and will do foolish things in order to be noticed and thought well of. He has a passionately romantic nature, and is developing an infatuation with Mary Godwin.

Doctor Polidori currently has a sprained ankle, from impetuously leaping to escort Mary Shelley up a wet path. He therefore walks with a limp – which Lord Byron may point out as evidence that the doctor is trying to imitate the poet in all ways! Doctor Polidori wants to be taken seriously as a writer, but Byron makes a point of disparaging anything he writes (and encouraging others to do the same). Nonetheless, Doctor Polidori is currently being paid by Byron’s publisher to keep journal of his experiences with the poet, and so will be keen to insert himself into any social interactions at the Villa Diodati.

Doctor Polidori in Your Game:

Anyone visiting the Villa Diodati in the summer of 1816 is going to encounter Doctor Polidori. If the PCs aren’t there to meet Lord Byron, may be trying to meet the former child prodigy, in order to seek his advice on some bizarre medical problem. Perhaps one of the PCs (or one of their loved ones) is a sleepwalker, experiencing horrible nightmares, or prone to fall into debilitating trances – all of which are Polidori’s specialty. In any event, Doctor Polidori will try to turn any conversation towards those topics – so he can feel like the smartest person in the room!

Another possibility is that the PCs are agents of Lord Byron’s publisher John Murray, sent to make sure Doctor Polidori is actually keeping his diary – and not just indulging in orgies with Byron.

John Polidori committed suicide by drinking poison in 1821 (although the death was officially recorded as being from natural causes). The Presenter could explore the possibility that in 1816 Polidori was already in communication with an actual Vampyre, who later made John one himself.

In 1800 John’s sister Frances married the Italian poet Gabriele Rossetti, and eventually gave birth to four children destined for fame – author and nun Maria Francesca Rossetti (who wrote a biography of Dante), painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti (co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood), literary critic William Michael Rossetti, and the poet Christina Rossetti (author of the classic “Goblin Market”). The Presenter could explore the possibility that Doctor Polidori’s family was haunted by fairies, and the John never died, but was actually whisked away to the Otherworld – with an illusory “stock” made of wood, leaves and moss left in his place. Perhaps Doctor Polidori was never really an ordinary human being at all, but a Fairy Changeling unaware of his own true nature until 1821 (when he chose to escape the Mundane World altogether).

Marquis de Sade – A Historical NPC for Ghastly Affair

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Marquis de sade

And now for a villain who perhaps needs no introduction, but a warning. Far from being merely a misunderstood rascal, Sade almost certainly deserved even more time in prison than he actually experienced. Here then is the man who has lent his very name to the term “Sadism”.

Marquis de Sade (October, 1767)

Soldier, Dramatist, and Depravity Personified.

Full Name: Donatien-Alphonse-François, Comte de Sade
Aliases: Captain de Sade (of the Burgundy Cavalry), Count de Mazan
Class: Libertine (Aristocrat)
Level: 6
Appearance/Most Memorable Characteristic: An impeccably dressed man with a roundish face, high forehead, and deep-set blue eyes that stare intensely. His natural hair under his wig is blond.
Age: 27

Charisma: 16 Intelligence: 16 Wisdom: 11
Strength: 9 Dexterity: 13 Constitution: 9
Perversity: 18
Assets: Aristocratic Skills, Talented Writer, Actor, Military Training
Afflictions: Notorious, Obsessed with Numbers, Powerful Enemy (Madame de Montreuil, his mother-in-law), Powerful Enemy (Inspector Marais of the Paris police)

Speed: 9
Hit Points: 36
Attacks: 1 (pistol, sword, knife, rod, or whip)
Damage Bonus: +2

Special Abilities: Disguise (+1) | Dueling (+1/+3) | Fraud (+1) | Sneak (+1) | Seduction (+1)
Weaknesses: Faithless Lover | Fascinated By Innocence

Typical Equipment Carried: Fashionable clothing of gray silk. A muff of white fur. A fine walking stick. A powdered wig. A dress sword (epee). High-heeled shoes. A small case with anise-flavored “pastilles de Richelieu” (candy pellets made with “Spanish Fly”, or powdered blister beetles).
Residence: His maison de plaisance in Arcueil, just south of Paris. The Château de Lacoste in Provence.

Background:

  • June 2, 1740: Donatien-Alphonse-François de Sade was born in Paris. His father was Jean-Baptiste-Joseph-Francois, Comte (Count) de Sade. His mother, Marie-Eléonore, Comtesse (Countess) de Sade, was the Princesse de Conde’s lady-in-waiting. The family had persistent money problems, made worse by the Comte’s compulsive gambling.
  • 1750: Sade begins his education at the Jesuit-run Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris. He was frequently beaten and whipped while there.
  • 1752: Sade’s parents separated, and his mother retired to a Carmelite convent.
  • 1755: Sade was enrolled in the Régiment du Roi (King’s Regiment) as a sub-lieutenant. His position is unpaid and informal.
  • May 17, 1756: Great Britain declared war on France, formally beginning the Seven Years War.
  • January 1757: Sade was promoted to the official rank of “Cornet”, with the duty of bearing his infantry regiment’s standard.
  • June 23 1758: Sade narrowly escaped being killed at the Battle of Krefeld.
  • April 21, 1759: As was standard practice at the time, Sade’s father purchased for his son his own cavalry company, and the rank of Capitaine (Captain). The young Captain de Sade quickly developed a reputation for libertinage that was extreme even by the standards of the French aristocracy.
  • March 15, 1763: Sade is discharged from his regiment, due to the end of the Seven Years War.
  • May 17, 1763: Sade married Renée-Pélagie de Montreuil, eldest daughter of a wealthy – but only recently ennobled – family.
  • October 29, 1763: Sade is imprisoned in the Château de Vincennes, for attempting to induce a prostitute to engage in “sodomy”, mutual flagellation, and the desecration of religious objects.
  • November 13, 1763: Sade is freed from prison by order of the King, but confined to the Château d’Echauffour, owned by his wife’s family. The ban on his travel will be lifted in November of 1764.
  • July 1764: Sade’s first child with his wife was born, but died shortly thereafter.
  • December 1764: Sade was back in Paris, with Inspector Marais keeping track of his activities.
  • February 1765: Sade takes the voluptuous actress and dancer Mademoiselle Beauvoisin as a mistress, promising her a stipend of 20 Louis d’Ors a month. She already has at least two other lovers. Sade’s mother in-law quickly learned of the affair, and began conspiring to separate the couple.
  • May 9, 1765: Sade took the pregnant Mademoiselle Beauvoisin to his family’s château of Lacoste, arriving by June. He tells people along the way that she is his wife.
  • August 20, 1765: Sade and Mademoiselle Beauvoisin returned to Paris.
  • January 1766: Sade ended his affair with Mademoiselle Beauvoisin, who immediately rejoined the theater and took new lovers.
  • June 1766: Sade visits Château de Lacoste to supervise renovations, including the construction of a theater.
  • November 4, 1766: Sade began renting his maison de plaisance (pleasure house) in Arcueil. He became known around the town for bringing young men and women back to the maison for sex and whippings.
  • January 24, 1767: Sade’s father died, making him the Comte de Sade. In accordance with the custom among French nobility of the time, Donatien-Alphonse-François assumed the grander-sounding title of “Marquis de Sade”.
  • August 27, 1767: Sade’s wife gaves birth to his first surviving legitimate son, Louis-Marie.
  • October 1767: Sade resumed residence at Arcueil, and returned to his preferred pastimes.

Personality and Role-Playing Notes

Sade affects a refined and sophisticated demeanor, but he is quick to violence if he feels insulted, or even slightly annoyed. He is an atheist and an iconoclast, yet demands all the privileges of his title. His tastes in food is gourmet, to the point of snobbishness. He requires extreme amounts of stimulation to feel any sexual satisfaction, and is in constant search for the ultimate erotic experience. He enjoys both whipping others, and being whipped himself. He finds the idea of desecration very arousing, and will often incorporate some manner of sacrilege into his sexual escapades. Besides perverse sex, Sade’s other great passion is for the theater – both as as an author, and an actor. He often combine the two pursuits, and the scenes of his sexual crimes are often carefully arranged by him for dramatic effect. The oddest part of his personality, however, is his obsession with numbers. He will inexplicably insist on acts being repeated a specific number of times, or objects being presented to him in specific amounts, without any rational reason ever given.

Marquis de Sade Your Game

Sade is here depicted well before he has written the books that will make him (in)famous across Europe. He is already notorious among the police and prostitutes of Paris, but next year he will land in serious trouble for the imprisonment and torture of an unemployed cloth spinner named Rose Keller at his maison de plaisance.

Player Characters encountering Sade might be policemen working for Inspector Marais, or be private investigators working for the Marquis’ mother-in-law. They could be invited to one of his elaborate dinner parties, particularly if they are also nobility (or part of the Parisian demimonde). Perhaps they have been employed by the family of a young woman who barely survived one of Sade’s depraved soirées. Sade might possess an infamous book detailing the outer limits of pleasure and pain, which the PCs want to either read or steal. Or, maybe Sade seeks such a book, and commissions the PCs to find it. In a less scandalous vein, Player Characters could even be actors hired for a play the Marquis has written.

The Presenter could make Sade an actual member of the “Sodality of the Friends of Crime” (as described in his novel “Juliette”). In that case, the PCs might be either accidentally learn of the group’s existence, or have been actually sent by the Church to neutralize it. However, the PCs might instead be working for a rival group of hedonists who also wish to destroy the dangerous Sodality.

Sade makes a good recurring villain for Sagas that encompass decades. He will be in and out of trouble with the law for all the remaining years of his life – imprisoned for the entire period from from 1777 to 1790, becoming a politician during the Revolutionary period, and being imprisoned again from 1801 to his death in 1814. Sade’s influence could easily extend beyond his prison walls, particularly if the Presenter chooses to include the “Sodality of the Friends of Crime” as a real group.

Deacon Brodie – The Real-life Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is one of the classics of Gothic literature, adapted and re-imagined in countless ways since its writing. Stevenson’s good doctor had a likely model, however – a man named William Brodie. By day, Brodie was the Deacon of the Wrights and a respected Town Councillor of Edinburgh, but by night he was a dissolute gambler and house-breaker! Here he is, statted for use with the Ghastly Affair rpg.

Deacon Brodie (January, 1788)

The real-life inspiration for “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”.

Full Name: William Brodie
Aliases: Deacon Brodie, Sir Lluyd (to be pronounced “lewd” – used when attending the Cape Club)
Class: Libertine
Level: 9
Appearance/Most Memorable Characteristic: A short, dark complexioned man of slender build, with large bushy eyebrows and sideburns. His eyes are deep-set, and dark brown. He is is very well-dressed, and walks with an arrogant swagger. If encountered during the day, he wears a white-powdered wig.
Age: 46

Charisma: 12 Intelligence: 14 Wisdom: 9
Strength: 11 Dexterity: 18 Constitution: 9
Perversity: 14
Assets: Profession: Wright (fine carpenter, cabinet-maker, and builder). Good Reputation.
Afflictions: Obsessive Gambler. Short.

Speed: 9
Hit Points: 54
Attacks: 1 pistol, walking stick, or pry-bar (+1 Bonus if fighting unaided, +3 if a desired lover is watching)
Damage Bonus: +3

Special Abilities: Disguise (+1) | Dueling (+1/+3) | Fraud (+1) | Sneak (+1) | Seduction (+1)
Weaknesses: Faithless Lover | Fascinated By Innocence

Typical Equipment Carried: A set of fine clothes (white during the day, but black at night). A fine-quality walking stick. A pair of small and concealable “muff” pistols. A pair of loaded dice. A mask of black crepe. A set of lockpicks. A small wooden case filled with putty, for taking impressions of keys. A small ivory whistle. A “dark” lantern, with a hood to obscure the light.
Residence: The mansion at Brodie’s Close, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Background:

  • Monday, September 28, 1741: William Brodie was born in Edinburgh. His father was a prosperous wright (fine carpenter and cabinet-maker) and Burgess (recognized property-owning citizen, with the right to vote and freely conduct business).
  • February 9th, 1763: William became a Guild Brother of Edinburgh, and was made a Burgess.
  • August, 1768: Brodie committed his first major crime – the theft of £800 from the counting-house of Johnston & Smith. He entered the premises by means of a duplicate key, which he made after being employed to do repairs to the building. Two night later, he anonymously returned £225 of the money. William will continue the practice of duplicating his customer’s house keys for the remainder of his life.
  • February 25th, 1775: William was admitted as a member of the “Cape Club”, a fun-loving gentleman’s society that met at James Mann’s tavern in Craig’s Close. All member of the club assumed a comical (or ribald) pseudonym at meetings, and William was known as “Sir Lluyd”. Among his fellow Club members was inventor James Watt. William also played dice obsessively at James Clark’s tavern at Fleshmarket Close, and frequented the cock-fighting pits of the city – particularly the one at Michael Henderson’s inn in the Grassmarket.
  • 1776: William’s mistress Anne Grant bore him a daughter named Cecil (named for his mother). Anne will eventually give birth to two more of William’s children. Throughout that time Anne remained ignorant of William’s other mistress, Jean Watt – who became mother to another two of his children.
  • September, 1781: As newly elected “Deacon” (presiding head) of the Incorporation of Wrights, William also became a member of the Town Council of Edinburgh. He will be a Town Councillor for all his remaining years, except for 1785. The other Councillors employed his services as a wright, and William made duplicate keys of their properties whenever possible.
  • June 1, 1782: William’s father Francis died. William inherited the mansion in Brodie’s Close, £10,000, a second house in Old Bank Close, a tenement in Horse Wynd, another tenement in World’s End Close, and a third tenement at Netherbow.
  • July 1786: While attending the cockfights at Michael Henderson’s inn, Deacon Brodie met a locksmith named George Smith, a shoemaker named Andrew Ainslie, and John Brown (a convicted thief on the run). The four decided to become buglers together, as soon as Smith recovered from the illness currently afflicting him.
  • October 9, 1786: The shop of a Goldsmith near the Council Chambers was burgled by Deacon Brodie, and the now healthy George Smith.
  • Winter 1786 – 1787: Poet Robert “Bobbie” Burns moved into lodgings across the street from Deacon Brodie’s home. The two became acquaintances. By this point, rumors were already circulating that Deacon Brodie had somehow helped a local murderer escape from justice. Likewise, William had been seen at least twice by people unable to believe – and convinced they would not be believed – that the bugler in their home was none other than the respected Deacon of the Wrights!
  • November 1786: Using duplicate keys, Deacon Brodie and George Smith burgled Davidson McKain’s hardware shop in Bridge Street. They did not obtain much except a finely-bound notebook, which William subsequently gave to Michael Henderson’s daughter.
  • December 24, 1786 (Christmas Eve): Around 4 AM, George Smith broke into the jeweler’s shop of John & Andrew Bruce, on Bridge Street. The job had originally been Deacon Brodie’s idea, but William refused to stop playing dice at James Clark’s tavern long enough to join in the crime. George nonetheless carried away a rich haul of watches and jewelry. The next morning, George allowed William to select some stolen items to keep for himself.
  • August 16, 1787: Deacon Brodie, George Smith, and Andrew Ainslie robbed the grocery shop of John Carnegie in the port of Leith, making off with a large quantity of tea.
  • October 29, 1787: Deacon Brodie, George Smith, Andrew Ainslie, and John Brown broke into the University of Edinburgh, and stole the institution’s ceremonial silver mace.
  • Christmastime, 1787: John Brown stole the house key of a shopkeeper named John Tapp, which had been left hanging in the man’s shop. Deacon Brodie made a duplicate, and the original was surreptitiously returned. Brown later revisited John Tapp in his shop, and plied him with a bottle of liquor. While the shopkeeper was distracted, Deacon Brodie and the remainder of his gang used the duplicate key to burgle John Tapp’s home above the shop. Among the times they stole was a miniature portrait secretly kept by John’s Tapp’s wife, evidently of her gentleman lover.

Personality and Role-Playing Notes: Deacon Brodie’s obsessive, thrill-seeking nature is belied by his slow and deliberate manner of speaking. He is a “macaroni” – extremely fashion conscious and vain. Heir to a considerable amount of money and property, he commits crimes to fund his gambling, and for the perverse thrill of being a secret criminal. Above all, Deacon Brodie is a shameless liar who enjoys fooling and manipulating everyone in his life. He maintains two separate households of illegitimate children, with two women who know nothing of each other. By day he is a “pillar of the community”, but spends his nights indulging his sordid whims. He cannot resist a chance to gamble or take a pointless risk – a fact that can be used against him by clever adversaries. He also likes to dupe people into becoming unwitting accomplices, by presenting them with stolen gifts.

Deacon Brodie in Your Game: Deacon Brodie is presented at the point just before he and his gang will commit their disastrous break-in of the General Excise Office for Scotland, in March of 1788 – the crime for which he and George Smith eventually be caught and executed. His secret life reflects the dual nature of Edinburgh itself – simultaneously the rising “Athens of the North”, and an overcrowded criminal playground of thieves and prostitutes. The medical students of Edinburgh demand a steady supply of fresh corpses for dissection, readily supplied by Grave Robbers. The city itself is split into the medieval warren of the Old Town, and the rising New Town of neoclassical buildings. An Affair featuring Deacon Brodie could focus on exploring the motifs of secret identities, duality, hypocrisy, and the disconnect between the ideal and actual.

Player Characters can be drawn into Deacon Brodie’s sphere in many ways. Bandit, Grave Robber, and Libertine PCs might simply find themselves recruited to take part in a crime unrecorded by official history. A Demon Hunter stalking his quarry in the night might run into William and his gang. A True Innocent might be publicly courted by the respectable William Brodie, and thereby be the unwitting recipient of stolen jewelry. If any PCs are property owners in Edinburgh, their houses could be targeted by Deacon Brodie – especially if they also know him socially as a Town Councillor. One of the male PCs may even be Mrs Tapp’s lover, implored by her to find the miniature portrait of himself that was stolen from her home ! In two weeks Deacon Brodie is going to be gambling in James Clark’s tavern at Fleshmarket Close, where an outraged victim of the Deacon’s loaded dice will leave William with a noticeable scar under his right eye. The PCs may be there, and witness the event.

There were sightings of Deacon Brodie after his supposed execution on October 1, 1788. If your Saga is set after that date, the Presenter can explore the possibility that Deacon Brodie wore a steel collar to his hanging, and bribed his would be-executioner to ignore it – or that the Deacon’s dead body was reanimated through Mad Science by that fiendishly cunning Frenchman, Doctor Pierre Degravers! Deacon Brodie had fled Scotland before his trial, and was supposedly caught in Amsterdam. Perhaps the man sent back to Scotland to die wasn’t actually Deacon Brodie at all, but a hapless victim of William’s ultimate scam.

Ghastly Affair Location Catalogues Now Available on DriveThruRPG

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I just wanted to let you all know that I’ve made a bunch of modular PDF fill-out forms for use with “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates. They’re called Ghastly Affair Location Catalogues , and will guide you step-by-step through the process of creating imaginary Grand Houses for games set in the late 18th to early 19th century era. After you’ve created a house, the Location Catalogue becomes a systematic record that can be later referenced during game play. Whether you work with an existing map, or create a map from the Catalogue, the forms allow you to define practically everything about the house and its inhabitants – including any restless ghosts!

There are three main sets, which are all available on a Pay-What-You-Want basis:

TheGhastly Affair Location Catalogue – Castle will help you create a Concentric, Compact, or Courtyard Castle – or a Fortified House.

The Ghastly Affair Location Catalogue – Mansion will help you create a grand urban dwelling, such as an English Townhouse, Italian Palazzo, or French Hôtel Particulier.

The Ghastly Affair Location Catalogue – Estate House will help you create an English Country House, Italian Villa, French Château, or a similar aristocratic home in the countryside.

And if you want to define your house in extreme detail, I’ve made three supplemental forms to be used as needed:

The Ghastly Affair Location Catalogue – Interior Room has lines for recording almost every possible characteristic of an important area inside your house.

TheGhastly Affair Location Catalogue – Garden Features lets you define and work out the relative locations of individual features in each garden area of your house’s parkland.

TheGhastly Affair Location Catalogue – Tower Interior defines the rooms inside stand-alone towers, of the type that might be found along the outer defensive walls of a medieval Concentric Castle.