Random Aristocrats and Noble Titles, Part I: French and British

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Mr and Mrs William Hallett

The following tables are meant to allow Presenters to quickly determine the title(s) of figures met by Player Characters in High Society. They can also be used by Players to select the status and title(s) of their own characters. As complicated as it all looks, this is actually an extremely basic treatment that greatly simplifies matters. The system of nobility in pre-Revolutionary France was actually much more Byzantine than is practical to depict here, and was seemingly designed to confuse anyone who wasn’t actually raised an aristocrat. Likewise, the outline of the English aristocracy and their titles is sufficient for game purposes, but it would doubtless fail to pass muster with the editors of “Burke’s Peerage”.

The tables exclude actual royalty, whose appearance in a scenario should always be planned beforehand.

The masculine form of a title is given first, followed by the feminine. “Styles” are the honorific expressions that are supposed to be affixed to the name of an individual who holds a title.

When referring to holders of pre-Revolutionary French titles, the name is usually given: [Style][Given Name],[Title][Family Name]. The British form is usually: [Style][Full Name],[Title]. For example:

  • The Very High and Powerful Lord Donatien-Alphonse-François, Comte de Sade
  • Lord George Gordon Byron, Baron Byron
  • His Grace, William Douglass, Duke of Queensberry

When directly addressing the holder of a noble title, the form is usually: [Style of direct address][Name]. For example:

  • “Monsieur de Sade, I am confused as to why you keep such fearsome instruments of correction in your bedchamber.”
  • “Lord Byron, surely you shall not discard me after so passionately demonstrating the firmness of your love!”
  • “Your Grace William, Mademoiselle Parisot inquires if you quite enjoyed yourself while spying on the Gates of Venus.”

Remember that French is the language of High Society across Europe. Aristocrats from Portugal to Russia speak French to each other, and it is common for nobility to not speak the vernacular language of the common people. Aristocrats everywhere regard themselves as having much more in common with each other than with the middle and lower classes of their own countries.

Random French Aristocrats, in Ascending Precedence (Pre-Revolution, or Ancien Régime) (d20)

1 – 4 | Gentilhomme or Gentilfemme (English equivalent: Gentleman or Gentlewoman) (Ordinary untitled aristocracy)
5 – 7 | Écuyer (English equivalent: Esquire) (Indicates an illustrious family, but otherwise untitled)
8| Chevalier (Hereditary knighthood, but not necesarily a member of an actual order) (Style: “Sieur”)
9 | Chevalier de l’ordre royal et militaire de Saint-Louis (Knight of the Royal and Military Order of Saint Louis) [Roll again for additional title, if any] (Style: “Sieur”)
10 | Chevalier de l’ordre de Saint-Michel (Knight of the Order of Saint Michael) [Roll again for additional title, ignoring results below 12]
11 | Chevalier de l’ordre du Saint-Esprit (Knight of the Order of the Holy Spirit) [Roll again for additional title, ignoring results below 12]
12 – 13 | Baron or Baronne (Style: “Very High and Powerful Lord” – “Monsieur” or “Madame” when addressed directly)
14 | Vicomte or Vicomtesse (English equivalent: Viscount) (Style: “Very High and Powerful Lord” – “Monsieur” or “Madame” when addressed directly)
15 – 16 | Comte or Comtesse (English equivalent: Count) (Style: “Very High and Powerful Lord” – “Monsieur” or “Madame” when addressed directly)
17 – 18 | Marquis or Marquise (English equivalent: Marquess) (Style: “Very High and Powerful Lord” – “Monsieur” or “Madame” when addressed directly)
19 | Duc or Duchesse (English equivalent: Duke) (Style: “Very High and Very Powerful Lord” – “Monsieur” or “Madame” when addressed directly)
20 | Prince du Sang or Princesse du Sang (descended from a former king, but not a child, nephew or niece of the current King) (Style: “ Monsieur Prince”, or “Madame Princesse”)

Notes about Ancien Régime titles:

  • The French aristocracy of the Ancien Régime distinguish among themselves between the “noblesse d’épée” (“nobility of the sword”), whose ancestors were ennobled for medieval military in medieval times, and the “noblesse de robe” (“nobility of the robe”), who were ennobled later to hold governmental offices.
  • The titles “Baron”, “Vicomte”, “Comte”, and “Marquis” are socially interchangeably without legal sanction. A Comte will often employ the title “Marquis”, for example.
  • About 40 of the most powerful Comtes, Ducs, and Princes are further distinguished as Peers of France, and entitled to the Style “Monseigneur” (“My Lord”).
  • An aristocratic family’s social status is determined by the length of time it has been ennobled, whether they are “noblesse d’épée” or “noblesse de robe”, the family’s accomplishments, and their current favor with the King, rather than their exact title.
  • Unlike in England, the children of a titled French nobleman are also considered noble. They do not bear his title, however.
  • The particle “de” (“of”) before a name often (but not always) designates nobility. The particles “du” (“of the” [masculine singular]) and “des” (“of the” [plural]) are also often seen before noble family names.
  • Unlike English titles, French noble titles of the Ancien Régime generally indicate ownership and legal responsibilities (“seigneurial” rights) over a particular piece of land. However, a Gentlilhomme might also hold seigneurial rights over a property without possessing any other title.
  • These titles, and their associated rights, are abolished in France in 1790, and replaced by the Napoleonic titles in 1808. The old titles are legally restored in 1814, but without the full seigneurial rights they carried before the Revolution.

Random Napoleonic Titles, in Ascending Precedence (Titles conferred from 1808 – 1814) (d20)

1 – 10 | Chevalier de l’Empire (Conferred upon members of the Légion d’honneur after 1808)
11 – 16 | Baron de l’Empire (Conferred upon wealthy financiers, some mayors, bishops, and army officers)
17 – 18 | Comte de l’Empire (Conferred upon government officials such as senators and ministers)
19 | Duc de l’Empire (Conferred upon high officials and marshals)
20 | Prince de l’Empire (Conferred upon members of the Imperial family, heads of vassal states, and great marshals)

Notes about Napoleonic titles:

  • The Légion d’honneur (“Legion of Honor”) is created by Napoleon in 1802 to honor exceptional service to the state. It is made the lowest rank of the nobility in 1808.
  • Napoleonic titles are conferred only upon men, except for former Empress Josephine, made “Duchesse de Navarre” in 1810.
  • The titles are possessed for life, but are only hereditary if the bearer also has significant property and income of their own to pass to an heir.
  • Napoleonic titles are essentially honorary, and do not confer any seigneurial rights of the kind that existed before the Revolution.
  • The titles of “Chevalier”, “Baron” and “Comte” are stated before their bearer’s name. “Ducs” and “Princes” give their title after their name.
  • Bearers of these titles are recognized as nobility after the Bourbon Restoration. The Légion d’honneur is maintained as a national order of knighthood.

Random British Aristocrats, in Ascending Precedence  (d20)

1 – 6 | Gentleman or Gentlewoman (No legal title, but may be “Lord” or “Lady” “of the Manor” when in their own home)
7 | Esquire (Indicates a Gentleman entitled to armorial bearings, or just one who is very pretentious.) (Style: “Esquire”, after the name)
8 | Knight of the Bath (Non-hereditary, by Royal appointment) Style: “Sir”, or “Lady” for the wife of a Knight) [Roll again for additional title, if any]
9 | Scottish Laird (Style: “The Much Honored”) (No seat in the House of Lords)
10 | Scottish Baron (Style: “Baron”) (No seat in the House of Lords) (Title can be sold)
11 | Baronet or Baronetess (Hereditary title, but no seat in the House of Lords) (Sir “Sir” or “Dame”)
12 | Knight of Saint Patrick (Non-hereditary, by Royal appointment after 1783) (Style: “Sir”) [Roll again for additional title, if any]
13 | Knight of the Thistle (Non-hereditary, by Royal appointment) (Style: “Sir”, or “Lady” for the wife of a Knight) [Roll again for additional title, if any]
14 | Knight of the Garter (Non-hereditary, by Royal appointment) Style: “Sir”, or “Lady” for the wife of a Knight) [Roll again for additional title, if any]
15 – 16 | Baron or Baroness (Scottish Equivalent: Lord of Parliament) (Style: “Lord” or “Lady”) (Peer, with a seat in the House of Lords)
17 | Viscount or Viscountess (Style: “Lord” or “Lady”) (Peer, with a seat in the House of Lords)
18 | Earl or Countess (Style: “Lord” or “Lady”) (Peer, with a seat in the House of Lords)
19 | Marquess or Marchioness (Style: “Lord” or “Lady”) (Peer, with a seat in the House of Lords)
20 | Duke or Duchess (Style: “His Grace,” or “Her Grace,”; “Your Grace” when directly addressed) (Peer, with a seat in the House of Lords)

Notes about British Titles:

  • Only members of the Royal family bear the title Prince or Princess.
  • Note that there is no such thing as a British “Count”. The British title for men is “Earl”. Oddly, the wife of an Earl is a “Countess”.
  • Only Peers who sit in the House of Lords are actually nobility. Everyone else is a technically a commoner, even if their father is a Duke. There are only about 300 Peers in Great Britain at any one time.
  • A woman may only hold a title in her own right only if all male heirs to that title are dead.
  • The geographic indicators attached to English noble titles are essentially meaningless. For example, the Baron of Whigglesbutt does not necessarily own any land in that charming town known for its callipygian maids.

Of Aristocratic Bastards

Note: we’re talking about the illegitimate children of aristocrats here, not the questionable behavior of the upper class. Although the latter often led the former, of course!

The 17th, 18th, and very-early 19th centuries were a relatively permissive period for the upper class of Europe, when every self-respecting man of means maintained one or more mistresses, sometimes in his own house. Likewise, only the eldest children of many aristocratic mothers were the actual offspring of their legal husbands. The illegitimate children of noble men were often open secrets – treated as untitled Gentlemen and Gentlewomen, even if not formally acknowledged by the father. It was also common practice for royalty to actually bestow a noble title upon their illegitimate children, whether or not they formally acknowledge parentage. For example, a good portion of the British aristocracy is descended from Nell Gwyn, the mistress of King Charles II. On the other hand, an aristocratic mother who knew her baby would not resemble her husband might go traveling, give birth to the child in some location distant from home, and then place the child in an orphanage. Noble men might turn a blind eye to such behavior, so long as everything was kept relatively discreet, and the actual heir looked passably similar to his presumed father. Of course, the royal houses of Europe had long displayed the disastrous physical and mental effects of continual inbreeding, so quietly preventing the aristocracy from suffering the same fate wasn’t necessarily to be considered a bad thing. In any case, royal and aristocratic bastards, secret or acknowledged, are a Romantic staple that should appear in any game that features interactions in High Society.

Random Interesting Features of Rooms in Grand Houses

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Hampton Court, Queen Mary's State Bedchamber, by Richard Cattermole, 1816 - royal coll 922134 313706 ORI 2

Stately homes and châteaux of the late 18th to early 19th Century (such as Highdark Hall) often contained a hundred or more rooms. Determining the exact contents of every room in such a house before game play is a daunting task for the Presenter. It is more practical to only prepare descriptions of the rooms that will be significant to the story, and then randomly determine (or select) the remarkable features of other chambers as the Player Characters enter them. Thus the Presenter can allow the PCs to wander wherever they want, without wasting valuable preparation time on places they will never see. I suggest writing the most remarkable feature of a room directly on the map, for ease of future reference.

Of course, the tables can also be used to spur your imagination while preparing scenarios. Many results will suggest strange histories and peculiar customs that can be explored in the course of a story. Also, you may wish to only define a single remarkable feature of even the significant rooms, so you don’t confuse the Players with extraneous details.

Note that the tables are intended to describe that portion of the house that would likely be seen by visiting guests. Also, common sense should always be your guide when applying the results of random rolls. For example, it seems unlikely that the maids’ dormitory would have a mosaic floor, or there would be an obscene print in the sewing room. However, there is no accounting for the perverse whimsy of 18th century aristocrats!

(d10) The Most Remarkable Feature of This Room…
| 1 | is the floor. (Roll on Table I)
| 2 | are the walls. (Roll on Table II)
| 3 | is the ceiling. (Roll on Table III)
| 4 | is a piece (or pieces) of furniture. (Roll on Table IV)
| 5 | is an exceptional painting (Roll on Table V) or sculpture (Roll on Table VI).
| 6 | is the fireplace (Roll on Table VII), or heating stove (Roll on Table VIII)
| 7 | is a door (or the doors). (Roll on Table IX)
| 8 | is an unusual object. (Roll on Table X)
| 9 | are the windows. (Roll on table XI)
| 10 | is its peculiar ambiance. (Roll on Table XII)

Table I
(d12) The floor…
| 1 | is exceptionally creaky.
| 2 | shows obvious damage and/or stains.
| 3 | is covered with particularity beautiful carpets (Medieval, Persian, Chinese).
| 4 | is a mosaic. (decorative design, or Roll on Table V)
| 5 | is made of boards that form a repeating pattern.
| 6 | features polychromatic wood inlay.
| 7 | is painted in an intricate design.
| 8 | is covered with an interesting floor cloth (design, or Roll on Table V).
| 9 | is stone.
| 10 | shows obvious signs of vermin (dead bodies, excrement, mouse/rat holes).
| 11 | is obviously meant to be raised and lowered.
| 12 | was obviously damaged, and very badly repaired.

Table II
(d20) The walls…
| 1 | are covered with murals. (Roll on Table V to determine images)
| 2 | feature brilliantly gilded designs.
| 3 | are covered in molded leather (long out of fashion).
| 4 | are painted an odd color (such as black) or particularly expensive hue (such as deep gray-green).
| 5 | are covered with with sea-shells set into mortar (rocaille).
| 6 | features particularly interesting sculptural plasterwork.
| 7 | are covered with a very interesting wallpaper (Chinese designs, strange Arabesques, etc.).
| 8 | are completely mirrored.
| 9 | are covered with tapestries, curtains or drapes. (Roll on Table V to determine images on tapestries)
| 10 | are covered with patterned velvet.
| 11 | are accented with decorative pilasters (gilded, malachite, polychrome marble).
| 12 | are badly damaged or stained (water damage, cracks, peeling paint/wallpaper, mold, a mysterious hand-print).
| 13 | are lined with shelves of curiosities.
| 14 | feature removable panels (of fabric, paintings, etc.).
| 15 | are almost completely covered with framed paintings. (Roll on Table V to determine images)
| 16 | feature many small sculptures in alcoves.
| 17 | are painted with trompe l’oeil (fool-the-eye) designs (architectural elements, an outdoor scene, etc.).
| 18 | feature intricately carved wooden paneling (boiserie).
| 19 | are accented/paneled with an unusual material (amber, polychrome marble, malachite).
| 20 | are completely découpaged.

Table III
(d6) The ceiling is…
| 1 | covered in particularly intricate sculptured plasterwork
| 2 | painted with a trompe l’oeil mural (clouds and sky overhead, a view upwards in a forest, angels and saints looking down from heaven, a night sky with stars).
| 3 | painted with a purely decorative design.
| 4 | hung with a splendid chandelier (or chandeliers).
| 5 | made of intricately carved wood.
| 6 | obviously damaged (cracked, water damaged, moldy, has a hole to the floor above).

Table IV
(d12) The furniture is…
| 1 | grossly out of style.
| 2 | intricately and beautifully wrought.
| 3 | utterly tasteless.
| 4 | badly damaged.
| 5 | made of japanned (hard-varnished) papier-mâché.
| 6 | exotically styled (Chinese, Egyptian, Turkish, Hindu).
| 7 | fancifully decorated (the legs are standing figures, the back of a chair is pastoral scene, etc.)
| 8 | barbarically ostentatious.
| 9 | elegantly understated.
| 10 | very uncomfortable-looking.
| 11 | made of unusual materials (a chair made out of animal horns, etc.).
| 12 | covered with découpage.
The exact piece of furniture will of course vary with the nature of the room; a bed in a bedchamber, a couch in a boudoir or salon, a billiards table in a game room, etc. Remember that 18th century rooms will typically have less furniture in them than was common in the more cluttered homes of the later 19th century.

Table V
(d10) The image is…
| 1 | an erotic scene (a courtesan lies on her stomach to display her lovely buttocks, a woman and her absurdly well-endowed lover, three lovers, an odalisque in a harem, two nude women in bed, nude bathers, a lady lifting her skirts to a man with a magnifying glass, a man looks up the skirts of a woman on a swing, etc.) (Note: some links are NSFW historical artworks).
| 2 | a mythological figure or scene (Hades and Persephone, Danaë and the shower of gold, Perseus and Andromeda, Venus at her toilette, Theseus killing the Minotaur, Saturn eating his Children).
| 3 | a historical event (Egyptian, Roman, Medieval, Biblical).
| 4 | a portrait (a former inhabitant of the house, a historical figure, a famous poet, a mythological figure, etc.).
| 5 | a landscape (stark mountains, an ice field, Greek ruins, a graveyard at night, a forest near a waterfall, the rocky seashore with ships in the distance).
| 6 | a religious figure (an obscure saint, a heretical preacher, a grisly crucifixion scene, a saint combating the Devil, etc.).
| 7 | a monster (dragon, woodwose, sea serpent, ogre, demon, walking corpse).
| 8 | an exotic scene (Chinese courtiers, A South Seas village, African wildlife, American wilderness).
| 9 | a still life (exotic food, tropical flowers, hunting equipment, a vanitas with a skull).
| 10 | an enigmatic (or allegorical) scene with possible occult significance (masked figures holding scrolls with encrypted words, Death and the Maiden, the Four Seasons portrayed as women, The Danse Macabre, an alchemical emblem).
(d10) Image medium: 1 – 5 = Oil painting, 6= Watercolor, 7,8 = Pastel, 9 = Trois Crayons, 10 = Print

Table VI
(d6) The sculpture is…
| 1 | a portrait bust (a former inhabitant of the house, a historical figure, a famous poet, a mythological figure, etc.).
| 2 | a free standing portrait figure (a former inhabitant of the house, a historical figure, a famous poet, a mythological figure, etc.).
| 3 | a mythological figure or scene.
| 4 | an animal (dog, cat, horse, lion, tiger, raven, etc.).
| 5 | a monster (satyr, demon, dragon, griffin, giant snake etc.).
| 6 | an erotic or obscene image (a suggestively posed nude, two or more lovers entwined, an aroused satyr, human genitalia, etc.).
(d12) Sculpture medium: 1 – 3 = Bronze, 4 – 6 = White Marble, 7 = Black Marble, 8 = Copper, 9 = Chryselephantine (ivory and gold), 10 = Papier-mâché, 11 = Wax (often with actual hair and clothing), 12 = Wood

Table VII
(d6) The fireplace is…
| 1 | an innovative new design (such as the Rumford fireplace or Franklin stove) that is more efficient, but less charming in appearance than a traditional one.
| 2 | fashioned to resemble an open mouth.
| 3 | made of fancifully carved stone.
| 4 | made of a striking material (black marble, malachite, polychrome marble, porphyry, etc.).
| 5 | crowded with curiosities atop the mantle.
| 6 | shielded by a floor or pole screen painted with an interesting image. (Roll on Table V)

Table VIII
(d8) The heating stove is…
| 1 | like a large iron box.
| 2 | a ceramic neoclassical column topped with an urn.
| 3 | an asymmetrical Rococo design made of gilded ceramic.
| 4 | a ceramic cylinder taller than a person.
| 5 | intricately decorated faience, with a design like a clothes-press.
| 6 | fancifully sculpted iron (person, dragon, phoenix, sun with rays).
| 7 | fancifully sculpted ceramic (person, dragon, phoenix, sun with rays).
| 8 | covered with decorative square tiles. (Roll on Table V to determine images on tiles)

Table IX
(d10) The door…
| 1 | is flanked by pilasters.
| 2 | is painted with images. (Roll on Table V)
| 3 | is flanked by statues. (Roll on Table VI)
| 4 | is carved in intricate bas-reliefs. (Roll on Table V)
| 5 | is made of an unusual wood.
| 6 | features peculiar knob.
| 7 | has a window (or is a French door).
| 8 | is made to blend with the wall, and is only noticeable for its knob.
| 9 | slides aside, rather than opens.
| 10 | is curved.

Table X
(d20) Your eyes are drawn to…
| 1 | a gilded birdcage with a nightingale (or other songbird) inside.
| 2 | an automaton (young man with a flute, singing bird, automatic orchestra, animated diorama of a historical event, dancing figures).
| 3 | a strikingly painted room screen. (Roll on Table V)
| 4 | an iron maiden.
| 5 | a taxidermied animal (mounted deer head, mounted boar head, beloved family dog, mounted birds under glass).
| 6 | a human skeleton (or skull).
| 7 | a flayed and embalmed human body, artistically posed.
| 8 | numerous curiosities arranged in artistic patterns on tables and shelves.
| 9 | a full suit of antique plate armor, standing as if someone was inside.
| 10 | a puppet or marionette on a table.
| 11 | a weapon (or weapons) mounted to the wall (sword, pistol, musket, axe, halberd).
| 12 | a pack of Tarot cards spread over a table.
| 13 | an antique book with strange diagrams and undecipherable writing on its opened pages.
| 14 | a pianoforte.
| 15 | numerous small ceramic statues. (Roll on Table VI)
| 16 | a model ship.
| 17 | a hanging witch ball.
| 18 | a large hookah.
| 19 | a peculiar clock (an intricately carved longcase, has figures that animate every hour, plays music on the hour).
| 20 | an unusual floor candelabrum (completely gilt, wrought to resemble a tree entwined with snakes, bearing black candles, etc.).

Table XI
(d12) The remarkable thing about the windows is…
| 1 | there are none.
| 2 | they have been boarded up.
| 3 | they are barred with iron.
| 4 | they have badly cracked panes.
| 5 | the glass is colored (stained glass [Roll on Table V for images], solid red, solid blue, solid green).
| 6 | the peculiar curtains (change colors according to the angle they are seen from, Chinese, Turkish, painted [Roll on Table V for images], tapestries [Roll on Table V for images]).
| 7 | the gorgeously decorated window seats.
| 8 | that the curtains seem to never be drawn, even during the day.
| 9 | that curtains seem to never be closed, even at night.
| 10 | the beautiful vista they frame.
| 11 | they are obviously leaky, because there is water damage all around the frame.
| 12 | they seem to never be opened, and the room feels very stuffy.

Table XII
(d20) The room…
| 1 | has a musty/moldy odor.
| 2 | is oddly sweet smelling.
| 3 | smells of exotic spices.
| 4 | stinks of sweat.
| 5 | smells of fresh wood.
| 6 | is particularly clean and fresh smelling.
| 7 | is permeated with the harsh smell of smoke (firewood, coal, tobacco).
| 8 | seems to remain dimly lit despite all attempts to illuminate it.
| 9 | is very brightly lit.
| 10 | is very dusty.
| 11 | is particularly drafty.
| 12 | is very damp and/or leaky.
| 13 | seems bare and deserted.
| 14 | is filled with inexplicable noises.
| 15 | is befouled by the rank smell of urine.
| 16 | has an unaccountably oppressive atmosphere.
| 17 | is polluted by strange fumes.
| 18 | is oddly cold.
| 19 | is strangely warm.
| 20 | is chokingly dry.

Two New Reviews For Ghastly Affair!

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Here’s a recent review of the Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual and Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual posted on YouTube.
Note: Review is mildly NSFW due to language. But of course, Ghastly Affair is meant for mature gamers!

And here’s another recent review from the blog “Filbanto Stew”.

Remember, its not too late to put the Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual and Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual on your Amazon Wish List. They’re also perfect ways to spend all those Amazon Gift Cards!

Every review is appreciated! If you like Ghastly Affair, rate it on Amazon, RPGnet, or Enworld. Or, post a full review of your own!

Happy Krampusnacht! Krampus and Saint Nicholas for the Ghastly Affair RPG.

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Mikuláš a Krampus 1901

The following take on Krampus and Saint Nicholas also incorporates a certain notorious Styrian from one of the classics of Gothic literature. Remember, this is all just for fun, and definitely not meant as a commentary on anybody’s beliefs.

Krampus
The Devil who punishes wicked children at Christmastime.

Creature Class: Spirit (Devil)
Number Appearing: 1
Initial Impression: The sound of cowbells and crying children, followed by the sudden appearance of an extremely hairy, grotesque man with a long, protruding tongue and large, goat-like horns. He carries a birch switch, has a basket on his back, and and is bound in chains from which several heavy bells are suspended.
Size: Human-sized

Perversity: 21
Disposition: Aggressive
Charisma: 7 Intelligence: 9 Wisdom: 15
Strength: 18 Dexterity: 15 Constitution: 18
Speed: 9

Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 5 (30 hp)
Attacks: 1 (claws, or grab)
Special Abilities: Diabolical Characteristics
Weaknesses: Diabolical Weaknesses, Distracted by Alcohol and Pretty Women
Assets: Skilled Torturer, Expert Grappler
Afflictions: Encumbered (by chains, heavy bells, and having two different feet)
Preternatural Powers: Cause Fear, Detect Evil, Detect Lies, Dimension Door, Knock, Invisibility, Major Creation (usually used to make birch switches and coal), Walk Through Shadows, Walk Through Walls

Natural Habitat: Wherever children are found at Christmastime (Bavaria, Austria, and adjacent areas). The dark and sulfurous caves of Hell.
Level: 5

In centuries past, Saint Nicholas put magical chains upon a Devil, and bound him to be the punisher of wicked children. Every night of December the 5th since then, the Devil Krampus has been summoned by Saint Nicholas to accompany him as he visits the children of Austria (and the surrounding lands). Good children receive gifts from Saint Nicholas. Wicked children receive the attentions of Krampus instead.

Krampus’ body is covered with shaggy hair, and he sports a large pair of goat horns. An extremely long tongue hangs from his fanged mouth, and his eyes burn like coals. One of his feet is human-like; the other is a cloven hoof. He always carries a switch of birch branches. The steel chains that bind him are attached to his wrists by manacles, and wrap around his body. Hanging from them are the large cowbells that announce his approach. On his back is strapped a basket, from out of which the small hand of a child will occasionally appear, accompanied by pitiful pleading.

Krampus’ punishments vary in severity, depending on his whims, and the extent of the child’s misdeeds. The most mild punishment consists of Krampus taunting the child with a present of coal, while he (or she) must watch other children enjoying the nice gifts given to them by Saint Nicholas. If Krampus is feeling especially mean, the coal will be glowing hot. Next in severity is a thorough birching, administered with the switch that Krampus carries for that purpose. Sometimes Krampus will then present the birch switch to the child or their parents, as a reminder. The very worst children are seized and stuffed into Krampus’ magical basket. Such unfortunates will be carried back to Hell, never to be seen again.

Although Krampus delights in the suffering of the wicked, he is himself thoroughly reprobate. His lust for schnapps and pretty girls is legendary. The moment Saint Nicholas is distracted, Krampus will take the opportunity to break valuable objects and cause general mischief.

Krampus is skilled at grabbing children and throwing them into his basket before they can wriggle free of his clutch. If challenged to a direct fight by an adult, however, Krampus will throw aside his birch switch and attack with his clawed hands. Saint Nicholas will not interfere in any fight involving Krampus, provided the Devil’s opponents are not themselves evil. If Krampus’ physical form is killed, he will disappear along with his chains. His basket will remain, however, dropping and spilling out all the children abducted that night. The fleeing children will then be given a stern warning by Saint Nicholas that they won’t escape punishment next time!

Some whisper that it was because of the wickedness he found in a certain family of Styrian aristocrats that Saint Nicholas first decided to take strict measures to instill virtue in Alpine children. In 1687 Saint Nicholas and Krampus paid another visit to that same aristocratic family, where they encountered a young daughter of the clan named Mircalla. That girl never forgot her humiliation by Krampus, even after her death. Thus, the Vampyre Carmilla Karnstein became Krampus’ eternal adversary, and she will stop at nothing to end his yearly visits to Styria.

Krampus’ Special Abilities

Basket of Imprisonment: The inside of Krampus’ basket is an infinitely large, pitch-black space with a cold stone floor. Krampus can always reach into the basket and pull out any child desired, however. The sound of crying children continually emanates from the Basket, and every so often a small hand or foot will peak out from under the lid.

Diabolical Characteristics: Krampus is immune to all weapons, except those which are made of silver, blessed, or otherwise enchanted. He cannot be harmed by fire, poison, disease, or any Special Ability or Preternatural Effect which target minds or emotions. Krampus can see perfectly regardless of illumination, is immune to blindness or any other debility caused by extremely bright light, retains the ability to distinguish colors in conditions of total darkness, and does not need time to adjust his eyes to changing light. He can speak, write, and understand all languages and forms of communication.

Krampus’ Weaknesses

Chains of Binding and Warning: The magical chains that Krampus wears allow Saint Nicholas to summon him at will, forces the Devil to obey direct commands from the Saint, and inflict 1d6 point of damage on their wearer if he touches anyone with a Perversity of 6 or lower. Furthermore, the bells attached to the chains are audible even when Krampus is Invisible.

Diabolical Weaknesses: Krampus is burned by holy water as if it was acid, cannot enter holy ground or touch blessed objects, and is subject to the power of Faith. He is Vulnerable to Silver, and will not voluntarily touch it. As a Spirit, he is susceptible to all Preternatural Effects that target spiritual entities. Additionally, the initial appearance of Krampus will cause the entire Nearby Area to momentarily smell like burning sulfur.

Distracted by Alcohol and Pretty Women: If confronted by an offer of strong drink, or a particularly attractive young woman (especially one with an ample bosom), Krampus must make a Charisma Save. If he fails he will immediately break off whatever he is doing to drink the alcohol, or pursue the young woman.


Saint Nicholas
The generous but testy Patron Saint of children, merchants, and mariners.

Signs & Portents: If encountered at Christmastime, a light snow falls, and children become giddy. If at sea, the winds become favorable, and fish are drawn to the nets and hooks of anglers.
Initial Impression: A mature, white-bearded man with a dark complexion, dressed in the white, red and gold vestments of a bishop. A halo of light surrounds his head. He bears a golden crozier in one hand, and with the other holds a sack filled with oranges, gold coins, and small toys. The odor of fine incense emanates from his body.
Size: Human-sized

Perversity: 5
Disposition: Determined
Charisma: 20 Intelligence: 20 Wisdom: 20
Strength: 20 Dexterity: 20 Constitution: 20
Speed: 9

Armor Class: 10
Hit Dice: 20 (120 Hit Points)
Attacks: 1 (punch in the face)
Special Abilities: Angelic (Saintly) Characteristics | True Resurrection
Weaknesses: Limited Power Over Spirits (Angels only) | Intolerant of Disbelief
Assets: Master of All Crafts | Master Mariner | Brilliant Businessman | Skilled Boxer
Afflictions: Short Temper
Preternatural Powers: All Transmutations, all 0 – 3rd Level Blessings, Divinations, Evocations, Fascinations, and Glamors, but no Maledictions.
Favored Preternatural Powers: Augury, Control Winds, Consecrate Object, Create Food and Water, Cure Serious Wounds, Detect Evil, Enchant Weird Object, Fertility, Fly, Invisibility, Knock, Major Creation (permanent, and can make precious objects), Rain of Fish, Read Minds, Teleport

Usual Surroundings: Wherever children live at Christmastime. Wherever his holy relics are found. Ships at sea. The shops of pious merchants. Poor houses with unmarried daughters.
Level: 10

Saint Nicholas is among the Saints who take a very active interest in events on Earth. On the night of December 5th every year (the eve of his Feast day) he visits homes, distributing small gifts to good children. Centuries ago, however, he became disgusted at the wickedness he found among some children in the German-speaking Alpine regions. He decided to bind a Devil named Krampus into his service, and he charged the diabolical being with the task of punishing misbehaving youngsters. Since that time the two have traveled together to reward the virtuous, and torment the wicked.

Although he is renowned for his generosity, Saint Nicholas’ short temper is just as legendary. When he lived on Earth he was a delegate to the Council of Nicea, where he famously punched the unorthodox theologian Arias in the face. The Saint will become incensed by any heretical or rationalist argument, which can cause his physical incarnation to actually explode with anger!

Although best known as the patron Saint of children, mariners and merchants also pray for Saint Nicholas’ intercession. The Saint can calm storms, and his presence causes the nets of fishermen to become filled. His powers allow him to make almost anything he wants from thin air, including Weird Objects. Unlike human magicians, he can even make objects of precious metal or gemstone through his Preternatural power of Major Creation. He can restock a poor merchant’s entire inventory, and create dowries to keep poor unmarried girls from resorting to prostitution. His mightiest power, however, is his ability to resurrect the dead, without the baleful consequences that often result when profane sorcerers attempt the same miracle.

It is whispered among certain Demon Hunters that it was the twisted spawn of the infamous Karnstein family that first made Saint Nicholas so angry that he decided to employ Krampus. To this day the sole remaining Karnstein, the Vampyre Carmilla, schemes to destroy Saint Nicholas (and his diabolical servant). Of course, Saint Nicholas is immortal (and can repel Carmilla with his Faith), but still she seeks some way to eliminate him from the Earth forever.

Saint Nicholas has a great rivalry with the Yuletide Fairies and Elves of the Winter Court, such as Father Christmas, Père Noël, and La Befana. While Saint Nicholas stands for morality and religious observance, Father Christmas and his ilk promote feasting and general good cheer, without concern for the religious significance. Perhaps some kind of accord is possible, if Saint Nicholas could learn to be more jolly, and the winter elves agreed to help make toys. Otherwise, the dispute regarding the proper celebration of the Holiday may well result in Saint Nicholas punching one (or more) of the other powers in the face.

Saint Nicholas’ Special Abilities

Angelic (Saintly) Characteristics: Saint Nicholas is immune to all mundane weapons, all poisons, all diseases, any effect of an electrical nature, and all Fascination effects. He can see perfectly regardless of illumination, is immune to blindness or any other debility caused by extremely bright light, retains the ability to distinguish colors in conditions of total darkness, and does not need time to adjust his eyes to changing light. Saint Nicholas can speak, write, and understand all languages and forms of communication.

True Resurrection: Saint Nicholas can resurrect any dead person to full life, no matter how long they have been deceased, or the condition of their body. The resurrected person suffers no ill effects or increase in Perversity.

Saint Nicholas’ Weaknesses

Intolerant of Disbelief: If for some reason one wished to send Saint Nicholas back to Heaven, the surest way is to beat him in a theological debate over the supremacy of reason over faith. Naturally, since he is a Saint and prodigiously Intelligent to boot, it’s extremely difficult to do so. A debater must first succeed at an Intelligence check, to make a point solid enough that Saint Nicholas takes it seriously. Then, the debater must succeed in 3 successive Intelligence Contests against the Saint, without losing a single one. A debater that fails will be quickly, and repeatedly, punched in the face by Saint Nicholas. If the Saint is defeated, however, his face will turn red and emit steam, just before his physical body explodes. Naturally, once Saint Nicholas is able to return to Earth he will deal with the blasphemous disbeliever!

Limited Power Over Spirits: Saint Nicholas can only target Angels when he employs the following Preternatural Powers: Banish Spirit, Bind Spirit, Summon Spirit. He can, however, repel creatures of supernatural Evil through Faith. When he bound Krampus to his service, he first punched the Devil in the face, and then placed the Chains of Binding and Warning on him.

Prices Reduced on the Ghastly Affair RPG, Now Until Christmas!

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NOW is the time to discover Ghastly Affair, “The Gothic Game of Romantic Horror”! That’s because prices on both the Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual and Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual have been reduced for Christmas!

Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual
Regularly $24.95 – NOW $19.95!

Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual
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Experience the delicious terror of true Gothic role-playing in the fevered age of Marie-Antoinette, Napoleon and Lord Byron, now at a special Christmas price!

Prices listed are in U.S. Dollars on Amazon.com. Prices outside the U.S. will vary.

Bring Back the Christmas Ghost Story!

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writing-desk-ghost Christmas time is here again. It’s the season for decorations and songs. Eggnog and cookies. Little men moving in the night, and a spirit of justice flying through the air. There’s darkness around those Christmas lights, and it’s always been there.

Americans have largely forgotten the tradition of the Christmas ghost story, but it was once a vital part of our celebration. We love “A Christmas Carol”, but fail to acknowledge the tradition of Yuletide horror that it represents. But, what could be more appropriate on a cold winter’s night than to shudder at a chilling tale? When our ancestors shivered from the cold, they also told stories to send shivers down their spines!

This year, have a truly traditional Christmas. Help bring back the Christmas ghost story! Remember that elves are kin to goblins, and Krampus comes too. It isn’t just the living who yearn to be with their families, and mischievous sprites still lurk in your Christmas tree.

Look outside. What left such strange tracks in the new-fallen snow?

Horror doesn’t end at Halloween!

Remarkable Features of Estates and Manors

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A French estate 18th century park view

Upper class people of the Ghastly Age (1765 – 1820) spent much of their time visiting each other’s homes, often without bothering to announce their arrival beforehand! An entire Saga of Ghastly Affair could therefore revolve around a group of aristocrats and their retainers encountering horrors and scandals as they visit one estate after another.

The following tables let the Presenter (or GM) quickly determine the single most notable thing about any great house, château, estate, or manor. The feature determined could become central to the plot of the upcoming Affair (or story), suggest a subplot, or simply be an interesting backdrop to the real action.

The tables could be useful for any Gothic, Dreadpunk, Mannerpunk, Austen-inspired, Victorian-era, Steampunk, or Horror game.

This Estate is Best Known For Its… (d20)

1. Animals
(d6) The estate has…
| 1 | a famous dog pack (fox hounds, beagles, wolf hounds, etc.).
| 2 | a large clowder of cats.
| 3 | an excellent deer park.
| 4 | famous horses.
| 5 | a nearby wolf pack. But, are they natural wolves at all?
| 6 | a private menagerie.

2. Architecture
(d6) The construction is…
| 1 | unique.
| 2 | exemplary.
| 3 | dilapidated.
| 4 | unfinished.
| 5 | medieval.
| 6 | exotic (faux Chinese, Turkish, Hindu, etc).

3. Art Collection
(d4) Everyone has heard of the wonderful…
| 1 | paintings.
| 2 | outdoor sculptures.
| 3 | indoor sculptures.
| 4 | automatons.

4. Attractive Residents
(d4) People go there just to see the…
| 1 | beautiful lady of the house.
| 2 | handsome lord.
| 3 | enticing servants.
| 4 | lord’s gorgeous mistress (or lady’s handsome cavalier servente).

5. Cabinet of Curiosities (see Items in a Cabinet of Curiosities)

6. Cursed Family
(d6) According to legend…
| 1 | the first born son always dies tragically,
| 2 | the family is cursed with lycanthropy,
| 3 | the family members become vampires after death,
| 4 | the women of the family die in childbirth,
| 5 | the True Loves of family members die tragically,
| 6 | the family is plagued with madness,
(d6) because an ancestor…
| 1 | bargained with the Devil for fame and fortune.
| 2 | harmed a gypsy.
| 3 | mistreated a priest.
| 4 | murdered a man in cold blood.
| 5 | desecrated an ancient religious site
| 6 | broke a marriage contract to marry his/her True Love instead.

7. Entertainment
(d8) Visitors flock to the estate for its…
| 1 | amateur theatrical performances.
| 2 | professional theatrical performances.
| 3 | dances (unmasked).
| 4 | dinners.
| 5 | musical performances.
| 6 | masquerade balls.
| 7 | debauched parties.
| 8 | pyrotechnics displays.

8. Follies (see Random Architectural Follies)

9. Food
(d6) The estate produces especially good…
| 1 | cheese.
| 2 | ham.
| 3 | beer/wine.
| 4 | liquor (whiskey, rum, brandy, etc.).
| 5 | fruit.
| 6 | fish.

10. Games, Sports, and Contests
(d12) The estate is famous for its…
| 1 | tennis court.
| 2 | giant-sized lawn chess.
| 3 | roulette wheel.
| 4 | billiards table.
| 5 | collection of beautifully hand-painted playing cards.
| 6 | shooting contests.
| 7 | archery contests.
| 8 | animal fights.
| 9 | horse-riding.
| 10 | swimming.
| 11 | lawn sports (pall-mall, trucco, boules, quoits, cricket, golf)
| 12 | horse races.

11. Gardens
(d4) The gardens are known to be…
| 1 | extensive, and tasteful.
| 2 | extensive, but tasteless.
| 3 | small, but beautiful.
| 4 | small, and strange.

12. Haunting
(d4) Spectral activity occurs…
| 1 | every night,
| 2 | on nights of the full moon,
| 3 | on an anniversary,
| 4 | when a family member is in danger,
(d12) and is usually seen in…
| 1 | a bedroom.
| 2 | the main hall (or on the grand stairs).
| 3 | the servants’ quarters.
| 4 | the wine cellar.
| 5 | one of the gardens.
| 6 | a library.
| 7 | the attic.
| 8 | the woods nearby.
| 9 | the chapel.
| 10 | the front gate.
| 11 | the window of a sealed tower.
| 12 | a pool or pond.

13. Horrible History
(d6) The estate…
| 1 | was the site of a massacre.
| 2 | was used as a prison during the Inquisition or witch hunts.
| 3 | was an ancient place of pagan sacrifice.
| 4 | was a site where witches gathered.
| 5 | was the place where an infamous betrayal occurred.
| 6 | has one or more people supposedly immured in its walls.

14. Hunting
(d6) The estate is famous as a place to hunt…
| 1 | deer.
| 2 | boar.
| 3 | foxes.
| 4 | rabbits (on foot with beagles).
| 5 | birds.
| 6 | wolves.

15. Library
(d10) There is an especially extensive collection of…
| 1 | novels.
| 2 | plays.
| 3 | occult books.
| 4 | erotica.
| 5 | poetry.
| 6 | philosophy.
| 7 | histories.
| 8 | scientific treatises.
| 9 | heretical religious texts.
| 10 | supposedly lost books.

16. Literary Salon
(d4) The salon is held…
| 1 | weekly.
| 2 | biweekly.
| 3 | monthly.
| 4 | seasonally.

17. Notable Former Resident
(d10) The house was once inhabited by…
| 1 | a famous artist.
| 2 | an important writer.
| 3 | a legendary occultist.
| 4 | an infamous traitor.
| 5 | a respected religious figure.
| 6 | a wise philosopher.
| 7 | a brilliant (or woefully incompetent) military commander.
| 8 | royalty.
| 9 | a notorious criminal.
| 10 | the Devil himself, if you believe the stories.

18. Secret Passages/Rooms
(d6) The secret spaces were originally intended for…
| 1 | housing renegade clergy.
| 2 | smuggling contraband.
| 3 | hiding and moving lovers around.
| 4 | spying on guests.
| 5 | hiding the meetings of a secret society.
| 6 | hiding murdered victims.
| 7 | access to a secret laboratory.
| 8 | forbidden religious rites.

19. Unsolved Mystery
(d6) People say that…
| 1 | somewhere in the house there is a lost room that hides a family secret.
| 2 | coffins move inside the family tomb.
| 3 | parts of the house are inexplicably cold (or warm).
| 4 | nothing will grow on one part of the property that should be fertile.
| 5 | visitors often disappear from the estate.
| 6 | the family’s origin is shrouded in mystery.

20. Water Features
(d6) The parkland is well-known for its…
| 1 | grotto pool.
| 2 | artificial waterfall.
| 3 | extensive lake.
| 4 | fountains.
| 5 | cunningly crafted statues that squirt unwary visitors.
| 6 | canals.

Ghastly Affair: Buy Both Books on Amazon Today and Qualify For $10 Off

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Purchase both the “Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual” and “Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual” on Amazon today, and you qualify for $10 off your order! Just follow the instructions on Amazon, and enter the code HOLIDAYBOOK during checkout. Now is the time to discover The Gothic Game of Romantic Horror!

Note: Offer is subject to Amazon’s Terms & Conditions