20 Unusual Customs and Superstitions of Grand Houses


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

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

For some curious reason… (d20)

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

Mary Shelley: a Historical NPC for Ghastly Affair


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The early adulthood of 19th century wild-child Mary Shelley was the stuff of romance novels, culminating in the creation of English-language Science Fiction genre with her classic “Frankenstein”. She would later go on to be the driving force behind the popularization of her husband Percy’s poetry, as well as being a pioneer of post-apocalyptic fiction (through her 1826 novel “The Last Man”). The following write-up is for Mary at age 18, when she is just about to create the now iconic figures of Victor Frankenstein and his Creature.

Shelley Easton

Mary Shelley (June 16, 1816)

Scandalous daughter of radical authors, and future creator of “Frankenstein”

Full Name: Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin
Aliases: Mary Godwin, Mary Shelley (often used, although she is not yet Percy Shelley’s legal wife), Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (future)
Class: Everywoman
Level: 2
Appearance/Most Memorable Characteristic(s): An exceptionally pale young woman with light brown hair and hazel eyes. She prefers loose clothing in light colors. Her emotions are very restrained. Those who knew Mary Wollstonecraft will note how much young Mary’s manner reminds them of her mother.
Age: 18

Charisma: 10 Intelligence: 14 Wisdom: 12
Strength: 9 Dexterity: 10 Constitution: 9
Perversity: 10
Assets: Occult Knowledge, Historical Knowledge, True Love (Percy Shelley)
Afflictions: Scandalous, Prone to Melancholy

Speed: 9
Hit Points: 12
Attacks: 1 improvised weapon
Damage Bonus: +1

Special Abilities: Profession: Writer | Avocation: Writer  | Affection (+1): William Godwin (her father, although the two are currently estranged) | Social Contacts: William Godwin (father, radical author); Samuel Coleridge (author, family friend); Charles Lamb (author, family friend); Lady Margaret King, Countess of Mount Cashell (family friend, former pupil of Mary’s mother); Percy Shelley (poet, lover); Jane “Claire” Clairmont (step-sister); Thomas Jefferson Hogg (barrister, Percy’s friend, and briefly a secondary lover); Thomas Love Peacock (author); Lord Byron (poet, recent acquaintance; Doctor John Polidori (physician, recent acquaintance) (Note that because her Profession and Avocation are both “Writer”, Mary gets a special +3 Bonus on relevant Ability Checks).
Weaknesses: Phobia: Ridicule | Prejudice: High Society (despite the fact that Percy was born an aristocrat!)

Typical Equipment Carried: Loose white dress, reticule (with journal and pencil)
Residence: A cottage near the Villa Diodati, the house rented by Lord Byron on the shore of Lake Geneva.


  • August 30, 1797: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born to Mary Wollstonecraft and radical author William Godwin, in Somers Town of north London. Mary Wollstonecraft was operated upon by a surgeon due to complications from the delivery, and developed a serious infection.
  • September 10, 1797: Mary Wollstonecraft died from septicemia.
  • December 21, 1801: William Godwin married Mary Jane Clairmont, who became Mary’s stepmother. Mary Jane’s illegitimate children, Charles and Jane, joined the household with Mary and her half-sister Fanny (Mary Wollstonecraft’s daughter by her lover Gilbert Imlay). Young Mary grew to intensely dislike her stepmother.
  • November 11, 1812: Mary first met poet, atheist, and anti-monarchist Percy Shelley, who had come to her house to meet his political idol, William Godwin.
  • May 5, 1814: Mary met Percy Shelley again. Percy, whose father was a wealthy Baronet, had come to finalize a loan to cover William Godwins’ extensive debts. Mary and Percy fell in love, and contrived regular meeting thereafter. Unfortunately, Percy was already married.
  • June 26, 1814: Mary and Percy made love for the first time at her mother’s grave.
  • July 28, 1814: Forbidden from seeing each other any more by Mary’s father, Mary and Percy ran away together to France. Mary’s stepsister Jane asked to accompany them. Since neither Mary or Percy spoke French (but Jane did), they agreed to take her. Percy eventually wrote to his wife and asked her to join him and Mary in a ménage à trois, but she refused. Rapidly burning through their money, Mary and Percy traveled through France to Switzerland, and took a boat-ride up the Rhine.
  • September 2, 1814: During their Rhine journey Mary and Percy spent a night in Gernsheim, close to the ruined Castle Frankenstein.
  • September 13, 1814: Completely broke, Mary and Percy arrived back in London. Mary’s stepsister Jane continued living with them, and began using the name “Clara”, or “Claire”. Mary experienced social ostracism due to living openly with Percy.
  • November, 1815: Percy began encouraging Mary and his friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg to become lovers.
  • February 22, 1815: Mary gave birth to a daughter, two-months premature.
  • March 6, 1815: Mary found her baby daughter dead in her crib.
  • March 13, 1815: Mary recorded in her journal that she dreamed her dead baby had been revived.
  • January 24, 1816: Mary gave birth to a son, William.
  • May 2, 1816: Claiming to have become Lord’s Byron‘s mistress, Claire convinced Mary and Percy to accompany her to Switzerland to meet the famous poet. Unbeknownst to the couple, she had also told Byron that she and Percy were lovers, and had insinuated in a letter that Mary might be sexually available as well.
  • May 27, 1816: Mary, Percy, William, and Claire met up with Lord Byron at a hotel outside Geneva. Byron was initially displeased that Claire had followed him to Switzerland, but later took advantage of the situation in his usual manner.
  • June 1, 1816: Mary and Percy rented a small cottage on the shore of Lake Geneva, where they resided with William and Claire.
  • June 10, 1816: Lord Byron and his physician John Polidori moved into a villa ten minutes away from Mary and Percy’s cottage. The group began spending their days together.
  • June 16, 1816: After a sudden storm forced them all inside the Byron’s Villa Diodati, the group began reading aloud from a collection of ghost stories. Byron proposed that each create their own ghost story to tell the group.

Personality and Role-Playing Notes:

Contrary to her scandalous reputation in England as a shameless slut and enthusiastic home-wrecker, Mary’s demeanor is strikingly controlled and intellectual. She can even come across as “cold”. In fact she often suffers from deep melancholy that she does her best to hide. Mary still grieves the death of her first child, although she will not speak of her. Although she often seems overly serious, and fears being personally ridiculed, Mary actually possesses a good sense of humor. She is always conscious of being the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, and feels an obligation to live up to what she thinks would have been her mother’s expectations for her. At the same time, she feels guilty for having been indirectly the cause of her mother’s death. Mary is also deeply troubled by her current estrangement from her father. Mary will be vocal in her support of Free Love, the overthrow of monarchies, reforming the criminal justice system, educating the lower class, abolishing slavery, and equality for women. She (and Percy) make a point of never using sugar, because it is produced by slaves in the Caribbean. Above all, Mary will never let any statement supporting the existing social order go unanswered!

Mary Shelley in Your Game:

The Player Characters might be among the guests caught up in the intrigues, debates, and antics at the Villa Diodati during the stormy week of June 16th. With her obvious occult interests, Mary will be particularly keen to speak any Magicians or Mad Scientists she might encounter! It is possible that one of the PCs tells a story, or makes a remark, that inspires Mary’s future literary output. The Presenter should always explore themes of “Frankenstein” whenever PCs interact with Mary – death, immortality, responsibility towards one’s creations, guilt, rejection, social justice, and the limits of science. Mary might be encouraged by Percy to take a Player Character as a lover, just as he had encouraged Mary and his friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg. It should be remembered that Mary’s five-month-old son William is with her, and she will not be able to go off on an adventure by herself, unless she leaves the boy with Claire, or one of Byron‘s servants.

Note: Different sources give conflicting dates for the chronology of events around the writing of “Frankenstein”, and disagree about how licentious the activities of that summer were. You should naturally present them in whatever way makes the best Gothic story!

More Great Stuff From Other People


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At the “Wine and Savages” blog, Sean Bircher is converting Ghastly Affair’s character classes (and the typical Adversaries listed in the Presenter’s Manual) for use with the Savage Worlds rules. I mentioned Bircher’s “The King is Dead” setting in an earlier post, and I recommend checking out his work.

As previously mentioned on this blog, William Rutter’s debut novel “Hunter’s Song” is now available on Amazon. The protagonist Lila Davenport is no helpless damsel awaiting rescue, but a heroic woman who defiantly faces the evil that invades her life. The fast-paced book is beautifully written, and supremely readable. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in the themes and historical era of Ghastly Affair!

Kubla Khan and the Prison-Paradise Xanadu


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Samuel Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan” is one of the greatest works of English literature, but the writer famously insisted it was simply a fragment of a far larger vision that came to him in an opium dream. Kubla Khan (and his realm of Xanadu) are perfect vehicles for the “Ghastly Affair” Presenter to explore themes of addiction, retreat into delusion, and Western misconceptions of the “exotic East”. I have emphasized the implied darkness in the poem to create an insidious enemy who aspires to total control of nothing less than the imagination. Like all the Incarnations of spiritual powers in “Ghastly Affair”, Kubla Khan is a plot device to drive several Affairs (or an entire Saga), and not just another monster to be faced in combat.

Kubla Khan

The terrible master of Xanadu, and would-be Emperor of the Dream Worlds

Signs & Portents: The weather turns suddenly calm, sunny, and warm. The smell of flowers and incense wafts in the wind, even in winter. People are overcome with bittersweet memories of lost loves and times long past.
Initial Impression: An man of apparently Asian descent with a long drooping mustache, an arrogant bearing, and fierce eyes. His long hair seems to float in some otherwise imperceptible wind. He is dressed in an exquisitely embroidered robe of yellow silk, with an intricate crown of similar material. Sometimes he appears instead in ornate lamellar armor. The mingled scent of vanilla, musk, sandalwood, and jasmine suffuses the air around him. At his waist he wears a long dagger.
Size: Human-sized

Perversity: 15
Disposition: Aggressive
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 dagger
Special Abilities: Mythical Abilities, Transpose Minds
Weaknesses: Limited Power Over Spirits, Defeated by Encirclement.
Assets: Imposing Presence, Connoisseur of all Pleasures, Brilliant Strategist
Afflictions: Arrogant
Preternatural Powers: All Glamors; all 0 – 3rd Level Divinations, Evocations, Fascinations, Glamors Maledictions, and Transmutations; but no Blessings.
Favored Preternatural Powers: Augury, Disguise Self, Read Minds, Charm Person, Confusion, Hypnotism, Ignore Pain, Enhanced Hearing, Mirage Arcane, Phantasmagoria V, Programmed Phantasmagoria, Speak with Dead, Sleep.

Usual Surroundings: The Pleasure Dome of Xanadu; High Society parties with an “Oriental” theme; Chinoiserie Gardens and Pavilions; wherever opium is smoked, or laudanum consumed.
Level: 10

From his Pleasure Dome in the paradise-prison of Xanadu, Kubla Khan schemes to dominate all the Worlds of Dream. He is not the historical Kublai Khan, but instead walking nightmare born from distorted and half-remembered tales knit together in fevered opium dreams.

Closely studying Kubla Khans’s visage (and a successful Wisdom Check) will reveal that his facial features are not actually those of an East Asian, but a Caucasian wearing makeup to make him appear “Oriental”. Likewise, anybody familiar with Asian cultures will be able to tell that the designs on his robes are an amalgamation of psuedo-Chinese, Turkish, Hindu, and Persian motifs – beautiful, but inauthentic in every detail. The apparent Chinese characters on his clothing do not actually have any meaning. Everything about his attire, manners, and speech patterns will seem wrong to someone actually raised in Chinese culture.

The personality of Kubla Khan’s is imperious and imposing. Always, he pursues his ultimate plan of conquest. To that end he will offer whatever pleasure is most tempting to his future pawns. He might pass a jeweled opium pipe, hand off a goblet filled with sweet wine and an orchid, or present a perfumed concubine trained in every art of love.

Kubla Khan’s paradisaical realm of Xanadu is a valley ten miles in diameter, surrounded by high hills, and encompassed by a wall studded with towers. The sacred river Alph meanders through the land, erupting in a tumult from a chasm at one end, and running five miles before tumbling into caverns that lead to a Sunless Sea. On the banks of the Alph is a grand and movable Pleasure Dome of gilded wood and bamboo, whose exact location is constantly changed according to the whims of Kubla Khan. Within wait courtiers and courtesans who may assume whatever body the seeker of pleasure desires. Underneath Xanadu are the fabled Caves of Ice, providing cool drinks and frozen sweets. The land surrounding the Alph is a patchwork of gardens, fields, and ancient woods, cut through by sinuous streams. Tall pagodas dot a landscape patrolled by men with the heads of white horses, some ridden by simian archers in plumed helmets. The fields are thick with tall hemp and flowers – most of all opium poppies bleeding the so-called “milk of paradise”.

Xanadu might be found by anyone traversing Astral Plane to the Dream Worlds, but the most usual way to enter is directly through the ingestion of opium. Those who surrender to the sleep-visions of the drug may find their minds in the fields of Xanadu, confronted with wondrous visions of splendor far exceeding anything they have known in the mundane world. But Xanadu is the worst kind of trap for the soul. Anyone who sees it must Save versus Wisdom, or thereafter mentally revisit whenever they dream. At first this will seem a blessing, until the dreamer learns they can now dream of nothing else. The visions of loved ones and beloved places that once appeared during the night will be gone, replaced with the bewildering opulence of Xanadu. And as souls spend more time there, they gradually come to know its true darkness. They will see the pagodas where every variety and implication of pleasure and pain are explored for the amusement of Kubla Khan. They will wander the hidden gardens watered with the blood of tortured bodies. They will witness naked slaves hunted by Kubla Khan and his tigers. Eventually, they will discover the mutilated corpses frozen in the Caves of Ice. And after have succumbed fully to the poisonous pleasures of the realm, they will be be imprisoned in gilded cages for all eternity.

Kubla Khan’s Special Abilities:

Mythical Characteristics: Kubla Khan 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. Kubla Khan can speak, write, and understand all languages and forms of communication.

Transpose Minds: By looking into the eyes of another, Kubla Khan can Transpose Minds with them. The victim must save versus Charisma, or swoon into unconsciousness. When they awaken, they will find themselves in Kubla Khan’s body, sitting on his throne in the middle of the Pleasure Dome. The victim gains all the powers of Kubla Khan, and every inhabitant of Xanadu will address and treat them as such. They will be fed on honeydew, and generously given the “milk of paradise”. They will feel exhilarated, overcome with the splendor of their surroundings, and convinced that they have transcended the mundane world. Meanwhile, the mind of Kubla Khan will inhabit the earthly body of his victim, temporarily losing his own Abilities and Preternatural powers, but gaining those of the victim instead.

Time passes more quickly in Xanadu than on Earth (but inhabitants neither sleep nor age). For the first earthly day of the Transposition, the victim will live a full day in the Dream World, but only an hour will have passed on Earth. For every day that passes in the Mundane World thereafter, the amount of time the minds of Kubla Khan and his victim spend transposed increases by one earthly hour, and one day in Xanadu.

If the Transposition occurred while the victim was awake on Earth, the Incarnation of Kubla Khan will suddenly disappear from sight. Now inhabiting his victim’s body, Kubla Khan will proceed to to ruin their life. Friends, family, and lovers will be betrayed and abused, and the victim’s fortune will be wasted on every variety of vice. If the Transposition occurred while the victim’s mind was already in Xanadu, Kubla Khan will proceed to hide in the forests, gardens, and caverns of his realm. When the period of Transposition ends for that day, the victim will suddenly become aware of being back in their own body again, with no knowledge of what Kubla Khan did while wearing their form.

On the 25th earthly day, after the experience of 24 uninterrupted days ruling Xanadu, the victim will awaken in their own dream-body. They will be imprisoned inside one of the towers of Xanadu, however. Forever after they will be tended by courtiers and courtesans who will alternate between indulging the prisoner’s every sensual desire, and subjecting them to fiendishly inventive tortures witnessed by the true Kubla Khan. Meanwhile on Earth, their fleshy body will have fallen into a stupor from which it cannot be roused.

To undo the Transposition before their inevitable imprisonment, the victim must find and capture Kubla Khan and force him to look into their eyes again. Then their minds will switch back into the proper bodies, and the victim of the Transposition will thereafter be immune to the effects of Kubla Khan’s baleful gaze.

Kubla Khan’s Weaknesses:

Limited Power Over Spirits: Kubla Khan can only target other Mythical spirits of the Dream Worlds when he employs the Preternatural Powers Banish Spirit, Bind Spirit, and Summon Spirit.

Defeated by Encirclement: The Incarnation of Kubla Khan can be defeated by winding a length of specially-prepared cloth around his body three times. The cloth must first have been inscribed with the names of everyone the writer loves, and who loves them in return. The Master of Xanadu must first be be somehow held or restrained. Then the writer must close their eyes, and make three successive Dexterity Checks (with a -4 Penalty due to blindness) to successfully wind the cloth. If any of the Dexterity Checks are failed, the attempt will be wasted, and the cloth shredded. If they succeed, Kubla Khan is banished to his throne room in the Pleasure Dome, and all his current prisoners are released (either back to Earth, or on to their proper afterlife). If the Encirclement is performed on a willing victim with whom Kubla Khan has Transposed Minds, or on Kubla Khan while he inhabits a victim’s body, the Dexterity Checks do not need to be made. Kubla Khan would then be automatically banished back to his throne room, while the victim’s mind returns to their own body.

Concerning Astral and Dream Bodies

The Astral or Dream Body of a character possesses all of their characteristics and Hit Points, as well as copies of all the items they were wearing when they entered the Astral Plane (or Dream Worlds). Death on the Astral plane (or in a Dream World) does not usually kill the dreamer’s real body, however. If they were using Astral Projection the effect suddenly ends, and if they had been in slumber (natural or drug-induced) they awaken. This experience can be traumatic, however, inflicting the Affliction “Fatigued” until the subject experiences a full night of uninterrupted sleep.

Songs for Kubla Khan and Xanadu

Oriental Masquerade – Celtic Frost
Sweetleaf – Black Sabbath
Tomorrow Never Knows – The Beatles
Over the Mountain – Ozzy Osbourne
Xanadu – Rush
Shambala – Three Dog Night
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida – Iron Butterfly
Magic Carpet Ride – Steppenwolf
I Don’t Like the Drugs (But the Drugs like Me) – Marilyn Manson
Snowblind – Black Sabbath
Heroin – The Velvet Underground
Sober – Tool
Master of Puppets – Metallica

20 Dubious Statements by Questionable Occultists


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Each claim on the list that follows could certainly be the beginning of a larger plot. Some of them presuppose particular genders and preferences, but the Presenter (or GM) should naturally alter them as appropriate. Some of the claimants may have genuine powers – others will undoubtedly prove to be frauds. It could be a mistake to assume that the more outrageous claims are necessarily the false ones…

They look you in the eyes and say… (d20)

  1. “Indeed, I have learned the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone, a mystery held close by the Magi of Persia from time immemorial. I require only the dung of a completely white goat from a litter of four, raised by a girl who has never heard a human voice raised in anger. The girl must have been born on a Wednesday in the sign of Virgo, and must have had her head shaved every day of her life from birth. After that, everything required is perfectly ordinary. Besides a flawless twenty carat diamond, which I will also need. Soon.”

  2. “I have extracted the fabled Carbuncle from the head of a toad that once lived in my garden. Unfortunately, if not kept in complete darkness the gem will collapse into dust. Therefore, while priceless, it must be kept in this unopened box. I am willing to part with it for only a small compensation of, perhaps, 5,000 livres”.

  3. “I can restore you to perfect health by running my magnetized hands across your body. You will need to be nude, of course, but how else can I be sure that the magnetic power is unimpeded?”

  4. “Using the ancient art taught to me in distant Cathay, I can measure your destiny by the shape of your ears. You, for example, are fated to become famous as the generous patron of an extraordinary man.”

  5. “You cannot see them, but you are followed by an army of fiery elementals, eager to immolate the next place where you sleep. Due to my pacts with their King, I empowered to prevent their assaults. For a modest fee, of course.”

  6. “Tremble, for the Antichrist has been born. But, only I know where. I can tell you, but only if you commit to sponsoring my quest to destroy him. It will take us across Europe, to many picturesque places and spa towns.”

  7. “I hold in my hands the lost Grimoire of Quaestius. It contains a powerful ritual that will reduce the mighty Lucifer to little more than a personal valet. The required components can generally be acquired without undue effort. Except perhaps for the heart of a reigning sovereign, which may prove somewhat more troublesome.”

  8. “You stand in the presence of an ambassador from the Rosicrucian Brotherhood itself, which has now decided to admit as members the daughters of Eve. However, I am bound to first administer the test of love, to insure that you can truly become one with the Brotherhood in spirit, soul and body. It is a duty which by sacred oath I must perform, though be assured that I personally find it most distasteful.”

  9. “The secret method of distilling the sacred Aqua Aurae has been taught from mother to daughter in an unbroken line since the days of ancient Egypt. You must pour it over your head to attain the worldly success you desire. I understand that its color and smell may have distressing implications, but if I was simply handing you hand you a bottle of that, surely the price would be less?”

  10. “Concealed within my walking stick is the sacred horn of the unicorn, which grants me the power to remove any poison. No, I cannot profane it by exposing it to your sight. Yes, I can be induced to use its magic for a token fee. Such as 10 guineas.”

  11. “Do you swear on your honor to hold secret what I am about to impart? Good. I have possession of the Ring of Solomon itself, but the sacrifices necessary to employ its holy might are too expensive for me to afford without your patronage. Naturally, I will gladly use the powers of the Ring on your behalf.”

  12. “In truth, I can no longer remember how old I am. I know I stopped counting sometime after nine hundred.”

  13. “During the term of my service with the East India Company, I found opportunity to be initiated into the mysteries of the Hindu Gymnosophists. Among the many esoteric doctrines imparted to me was the secret of flight. Once, I flew clear across the tall Himalayas, and saw with my own eyes the mystic land of Shambhala. That was truly an adventure! Unfortunately, I have found upon my return that the food of Europe is excessively heavy, and therefore prevents my becoming airborne. Nor can I use the other powers of my light-body while so encumbered. However, if you you were pay for my passage back to Madras, I could certainly demonstrate my abilities for you there.”

  14. “The celestial alignment that will occur within a month’s time presages the end of the world. Unless, I can obtain a certain gem that I can use to focus the sun’s rays to repel the malign influence of the stars. Such a gem exists in the jewelers on the Rue de N- , and can be had for a trifle of 10,000 francs. Unfortunately, the gem will be ruined by the ritual, and I will not be able to return it to you. It is but a small annoyance compared to being the world’s savior, no?”

  15. “I have developed the recipe for a miraculous healing salve, whose effectiveness I will happily demonstrate to you. I will merely need to whip my housekeeper, and apply it to her wounds. Yes, she must be completely disrobed, as must I to avoid staining my clothes. Naturally, I will derive no inappropriate satisfaction from this necessary display, but the progress of spiritual science must go on!”

  16. “We Illuminated ones hold the keys to true power in every sphere worldly and spiritual. Of course, it is a rule of our Order that no member may know the identity of any other member, save the one who initiated him, and the one he initiates. But you can trust me that the Order is both vast and mighty. And the dues are thoroughly reasonable.”

  17. “By means of the ancient Druidic arts I can speak to the plants of your garden, and determine how best to tend them. Right now they are expressing excitement and eagerness to grow, if only the master of the estate would employ someone who understood their language.”

  18. “During my sojourn in Egypt I acquired a book which taught me a foolproof method of finding treasure. Help me obtain the necessary materials, and I will split the proceeds with you. Unfortunately, some of the required items cannot currently be obtained from any merchant. Fortunately, I could with your aid obtain them surreptitiously from the collection of a certain Duke. Did I mention I already possess mystical means to prevent our discovery?”

  19. “We of Astarte’s sisterhood do not normally admit males into our mysteries, but I am certain an exception could be made for a young man such as yourself, truly created in the image of Adonis. And such a specimen of obvious, even prodigious, intelligence you are! If at midnight next Tuesday you were to appear at my chateau, my lackeys would certainly admit you to my boudoir, excuse me, chamber of mystic initiation. There I shall explain in particular how to transform your mouth from a vehicle of mere speech, into a wonderful instrument of rapturous enchantment. Selflessly, I shall even allow you to practice your new ability on my person. I must advise you that before I can instruct you in this and other arts, you must have recently communed with the Undines through total immersion in a bath. Afterwards, you will admit that your initiation will have been thoroughly accomplished. I promise.”

  20. “It is required of every warlock that he eventually pass on his magic through the exchange of clothing with a new student. For you to complete your initiation and receive your power, you must appear in the marketplace tomorrow morning wearing my distinctive attire. There you must wait until you are approached by men who you will no doubt assume to be the legal authorities. In fact, they are members of my coven, come to lead you away to the ceremony where you will acquire the secret of sorcery! No, you won’t see me again, since I am bound by tradition to leave this area and never return.”

An Update to ‘Happenings in the Ghastly Affair Community’


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William Rutter’s first novel “Hunter’s Song”, previously discussed in “Happenings in the Ghastly Affair Community“, is now available on Amazon, in print and for Kindle. Naturally, it’s also available through Amazon UK,and Amazon France. I personally look forward to reading more about Lila Davenport’s struggles with supernatural evil in the dark corners of Georgian England (and beyond).

Naturally, Lila must now be added to the list of Inspirations for Demon Hunter characters!


The Bildungsroman as a Character Creation Method


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The various ages 1811 recto

“Bildungsroman” is the literary term for a novel that traces a person’s development from their early life to their maturity. A well-known example would be “Jane Eyre”. The idea can be applied to the creation of Ghastly Affair characters, by role-playing a series of brief vignettes that explain their abilities and frailties. I make no claim that this is a new or revolutionary idea – I just propose it as an alternative certain groups might find enjoyable.

The Bildungsroman (First Draft)

ONE: As usual, decide upon a Character Inspiration, a Name, and a Most Memorable Characteristic. Consider what the character’s age will eventually be at 1st Level. Generally, this should be around 20, but a character’s initial age could be anywhere from 12 to 30. Gypsies and True Innocents might start on the younger side of that scale, while Magicians and Mad Scientists might begin at its older end. The determined age will serve as a goal for the remainder of the Bildungsroman. Also, at this point record the character’s Hit Points. Do not determine Basic Abilities yet – they will be determined one-by-one as as the Bildungsroman proceeds.

TWO: If any Special Abilities or Weaknesses necessitate Player choices (such as an Everyman’s Profession, or Magician’s Magical Implement), the selection can be done either before the Bildungsroman, or during the course of it. Also, consider what Assets and Afflictions (if any) you want the character to possess. It may happen, however, that in the course of playing out the Bildungsroman you will rethink the initially chosen Assets and Afflictions to better suit the evolving character history.

THREE: Decide the social status of the character’s family. The Player (or Presenter) then describes the circumstances of the character’s birth. If desired, the rules for Childbirth given in Chapter 4 of the Player’s Manual may be used to determine if the character’s mother survived.

FOUR: Determine the age at which the character began to acquire the characteristics of their Class. Generally this initial age should be around 10, but in the case of Magicians and Mad Scientists it may be may be as old as 20.

FIVE: Choose a Special Ability, Asset, Weaknesses, or Affliction to be explained (or explored). Also, choose a Basic Ability (or Perversity), and determine it by either taking a 9, or rolling 3d6. Apply any modifiers from the chosen character Class. In the case of Perversity, you may choose any score desired, remembering that True Innocents may go no higher than 6, and Libertines no lower than 12.

SIX: The Player and Presenter improvise a brief vignette that demonstrates, or explicates the acquisition of, the characteristics in focus. Any other Players present may assume the roles of the PC’s family members, friends, teachers, etc. Whatever Basic Ability has been determined, it should be used in an Ability Check as part of the vignette. In the case of a Magician, the vignette should probably cover their Initiation, and the creation (or receipt) of their Power Object. If a fight occurs, the PC does not enjoy any Damage Bonus.

SEVEN: Advance the timeline anywhere from a month to two years, keeping in mind the desired age of the character at 1st Level.

EIGHT: Repeat steps FIVE, SIX, and SEVEN until all the character’s Special Abilities, Assets, Weaknesses, and Afflictions have been explained, and their Basic Abilities and Perversity have been determined.

NINE: Equip the character with the items they will be carrying (or have easy access to) when the first Affair commences. Naturally this will be influenced by both the character’s social class, and the events of the Bildungsroman.

Naturally, the Player and Presenter should note any characters introduced. Likely, several will become recurring NPCs and SPCs in the ongoing Saga. In the case of Everyman PCs, characters created during their Bildungsroman will likely form their core Social Contacts. Obviously, a Player Character will not be killed during their Bildungsroman, so any fights or hazards will at worst result in temporary incapacity.

Playing out a Bildungsroman will result in extremely deep and detailed characters, but it requires both time and improvisational skills. Since there will always be at least seven vignettes (and probably more), you could spend a compete gaming session developing a single PC. Whether that’s a positive or negative will depend upon your group. Obviously, it can be great fun for groups that enjoy spontaneous creativity and heavy role-playing, but is not a good idea if the group has limited time and just wants to get to the action.

I’d love to hear your opinions. Probably, the Bildungroman would benefit from tables suggesting possible situations, keyed to the various Special Abilities and Weaknesses of the Classes. The Player could select a situation to be role-played, or the Presenter could randomly determine one instead. Of course, that could mean making 63 different tables, with perhaps 6 or more choices on each table. A daunting task!

Suggested Sources of Initiation for Magicians


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Francisco de Goya y Lucientes - Witches Sabbath (The Great He-Goat) - WGA10108

Any character can use a Magical Ritual in the Ghastly Affair RPG, but in order to become a true Magician one must first be initiated – either by another initiate, or some spiritual entity. What follows are some ways that a Magician character may have received their initiation. While the list is obviously not comprehensive, it will nonetheless serve to help define character backgrounds, and inspire potential sources of conflict in the ongoing Saga. The sources listed are ones that fit into the Gothic and Romantic themes of the game.

Afro-Caribbean Theurgy: The term includes such things as the Obeah tradition of Jamaica, the Lucumi tradition of Spanish Cuba (popularly known as Santeria), and the Vodun rites of Saint-Domingue (Haiti) and La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans). Both those of African descent, and the members of planter families (raised by enslaved nannies), might practice such traditions.

The Bavarian Illuminati: The actual Bavarian Illuminati was founded in 1776, as an initiatory order within Freemasonry. The founder Adam Weishaupt hoped to spread the ideals of the Enlightenment, combat the influence of the Church in politics, and ultimately reform society. The historical Illuminati were destroyed by a series of actions taken by the Bavarian state in the 1780s, but they have lived on in conspiracy theories ever since. They were widely believed at the time to be responsible for the French Revolution.

The Black Man of the Crossroads: Although strongly associated with the Hoodoo practices of the American South, the belief in meeting the Devil at the crossroads also occurs in European folklore. The Ritual is simple – the postulant goes to a deserted crossroads at exactly midnight on three successive nights, bearing the item that will become their magical Power Object. For the first two nights, the seeker must wait until 1 AM, although they may experience many temptations to depart before then. At exactly midnight on the third night, the Black Man will appear. He will take hold of the item brought, and then give it back. The postulant then signs in blood the book born by the Black Man, thereby receiving magical power, but consigning the Magician’s soul to Hell. The new magician’s Perversity automatically increases by 2 points. [Note: I have altered the traditional crossroads ritual for game purposes.]

Cabbalism: The authentic secret tradition of Judaism was taught from Rabbi to student, and usually only to men. A female cabbalist PC, however, could have disguised herself as a man, or have accidentally summoned an initiating angel while perusing the mystical books of her father (or husband). Alternately, her father might have been a renegade who initiated and instructed her regardless of tradition. Because of the rampant anti-Semitic prejudice of Ghastly Age Europe, Jewish Cabbalists might pretend to be Gentiles.

The Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry: Occultist, adventurer, and physician Count Cagliostro formed his own rite of Freemasonry in 1784. He claimed that it represented the true form of Masonry, rooted in the ancient Egyptian mysteries. Notably, Cagliostro’s Rite admitted women.

The Fairy Folk: Ireland in particular had a tradition of “Fairy Doctors”, healers whose power had been given to them by the Good Folk. As mentioned in the “Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual”, a Fairy Doctor is subject to a Fairy Ban, rather than having their abilities bound to a Power Object. Typically, the Ban prevents them from directly accepting payment for most services. Similarly, a character may have been taken to Fairyland, and then returned to the Mundane World (having been meanwhile taught some magic) when their abductor grew bored. Though only a few months might have seemed to pass in the Fairy world, the returned Magician will find that actually been gone for many years.

The Jesuits: In modern times, the education-focused Society of Jesus is seen as the liberal wing of the Catholic Church. In the eighteenth century, however, it was widely feared as a secret order dedicated to undermining the monarchies of Europe. Both the rumored occult knowledge of the Jesuits, and their undivided dedication to the Pope, caused a hysteria that resulted in them being widely banned (and officially dissolved between the years 1773 and 1814).

Martinism: The hermetic Christian mysticism taught by Martinez de Pasqually and his student Louis Claude de Saint-Martin was very popular in Revolutionary-era France. The highest degrees of de Pasqually’s “l’Ordre des Chevaliers Maçons Élus Coëns de l’Univers” (Order of Knight-Masons Elect-Priests of the Universe) were explicitly theurgic, and taught spirit evocation.

Native American Medicine: Perhaps through extraordinary circumstance a European was adopted into a Native American nation, and initiated into their spiritual healing tradition. Alternately, a character could be a Native American medicine man (or woman) who has traveled to Europe on a quest to find the source of the evil that has invaded their world.

The Near East: The early Romantics were often Islamophiles, and the idea of a secret Muslim society persisting in Europe is explored in Jan Potocki’s “The Manuscript Found in Saragossa”. The grimoire called “The Black Pullet” supposedly records the occult knowledge imparted to a French soldier in Egypt by a mysterious Turk. Even the “Fama Fraternitatis” claims that the legendary founder of the Rosicrucian Order was instructed in the Near East.

Neo-Druidism: The eighteenth century saw a profound revival of interest in ancient Celtic culture, although much of what was offered as authentically “Celtic” was of dubious historicity. Many antiquarians studied (and formed strange theories about) prehistorical megaliths, the “Ossian” poems, were wildly popular, and various people claimed to hold the wisdom of the pre-Christian Celts. The best known of such Neo-Druids was the Iolo Morganwg (Edward Williams), founder of the “Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain”.

The Rosicrucian Order: Ever since the publication of the “Fama Fraternitatis” in 1614, European occultist have claimed to represent the mystical order founded by the legendary Christian Rosenkreuz. Casanova was notably fond of claiming to be a Rosicrucian, especially when it gained him money and/or sex.

The Scholomance: The legendary subterranean school of magic taught by Satan is an obvious choice when deciding how a Magician received their initiation, as is the similar “Black School of Wittenberg”. Famous literary alumni of the “Scholomance” include none other than Count Dracula!

The School of Francis Barrett: Francis Barrett’s 1801 occult compendium “The Magus” contained an advertisement seeking twelve students to learn his magical secrets. There is, of course, no known record of whether of not such a school was actually formed.

Tantricism: A character might have been initiated into one of the Indian religio-magical traditions that fall under the loose category of “Tantric”. Contrary to the modern Western stereotype, such groups were never exclusively oriented towards sexual mysticism. British, French, Dutch and and Portuguese soldiers and traders might well have returned from the East with strange powers and abilities. Or, perhaps the Tantric is a native Indian who has journeyed to the strange and exotic Occident.

The Witch Cult: Whether they had been invited to attend the Black Sabbath, or had wandered into it by mistake, characters will have been offered the opportunity to render the Osculum Infame, sign the Black Book, and gain the power to cast spells. Anyone who becomes a witch or warlock at the Sabbath will have been marked on their body with a scar, blotch, or supernumerary nipple. The mark is thenceforth their Power Object. If it is ever removed from their body, the witch or warlock will lose their ability to use magic (but still forfeit their soul after death anyway).

Character Inspirations Part VII: The Magician


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The era of the Enlightenment also saw an explosion of occultism. The aristocracy of eighteenth century France in particular was obsessed with alchemy and spirit evocation. Freemasonry was intertwined with even more esoteric practices, particularly in continental Europe. Monarchs such as Sweden’s Gustav III ran their nations on the advice of fortune-tellers and mystics. The first books on using Tarot cards for divination were published in the late eighteenth century, and the Egyptomania of the time has left an enduring mark on modern Western occultism. Count Cagliostro mingled with the highest strata of European society, while the lower class looked to witchcraft for cures the quacks of the day could not provide. The Gothic genre itself was partially the result of the eighteenth century’s thirst for the supernatural, turned to dark obsession as war, revolution, and natural disasters engulfed the continent.

The following lists will help inspire Magician and Witch characters for Ghastly Affair, or any role-playing game.

Some Historical Magicians:
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
Mamsell Arfvidsson
Francis Barrett
Alexis-Vincent-Charles Berbiguier de Terre-Neuve du Thym
Carl Adolf Boheman
Count Cagliostro (Guiseppe Balsalmo)
John Dee
Etteilla (Jean-Baptiste Alliette)
Antoine Court de Gébelin
Magdelaine de La Grange
Étienne Guibourg
Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand
Suzanne Labrousse
Adam Lesage
Henrietta Lullier [Multi-classed Magician / Libertine]
Antoine Fabre d’Olivet
Annie Palmer (The White Witch of Rose Hall) [possibly apocryphal]
Martinez de Pasqually
Charlotta Roos
Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin
Henrik Gustaf Ulfvenklou
Marie-Anne de La Ville
La Voisin (Catherine Monvoisin)

Some Literary Inspirations:
Carathis (Vathek – William Beckford)
John Constantine (Hellblazer – DC Comics)
Count Dracula (Dracula – Bram Stoker) [Multiclass Magician / Vampyre. Most of Dracula’s powers are actually necromancy learned at the legendary Scholomance]
Durand (Juliette; or, Vice Amply Rewarded – Marquis de Sade)
Don Pedro de Uzeda (Rabbi Zadok ben Mamoun) (The Manuscript Found in Sargossa – Jan Potocki)
Ginotti (Saint Irvyne; or, The Rosicrucian – Percy Bysshe Shelley)
Haninuh the Scholar (The Book of the Beast – Tanith Lee)
Heinrich Faust (Faust – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
Prospero (The Tempest – William Shakespeare)
Manfred (Manfred: A Dramatic Poem – Lord Byron)
Matilda (The Monk: A Romance – Matthew Lewis) [although Matilda is also something else…]
Ruquel (The Book of the Beast – Tanith Lee)
Zanoni (Zanoni – Edward Bulwer-Lytton)

Some Magicians from Movies and Television:
Angelique Bouchard (Dark Shadows)
The Evil Queen (Snow White)
Justin (Lo)
Rowena MacLeod (Supernatural)
Merlin (Excalibur)
The Mirror Queen (The Brothers Grimm)
Morgana Le Fay (Excalibur)
Nix (Lord of Illusions)
Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Lord Summerisle (The Wicker Man)
Philip Swann (Lord of Illusions)
Asa Vajda (Black Sunday) [Multiclassed Magician / Vampyre]
Katrina Van Tassel (Sleepy Hollow – Movie and TV Series)
Mary Walcott (Salem)
Warlock (Warlock)
Witch Woman (The Company of Wolves)

A Few Inspirational Songs:
The Wizard – Black Sabbath
Rhiannon – Fleetwood Mac
The Witch – The Cult
I Put a Spell on You – Screaming Jay Hawkins
Witchy Woman – The Eagles
Black Magic Woman – Santana
Spellbound – Siouxsie and the Banshees
Magic Man – Heart
Over the Mountain – Ozzy Osbourne. Ok, Mr. Crowley too!
Wrapped Around Your Finger – The Police

Gallery of Images

1 Félicien Rops - L'Incantation

2 A witch making a potion Wellcome V0044812

3 Ill dict infernal p0130-114 boule de cristal

4 A witch casting spells over a steaming cauldron. Engraving b Wellcome V0025855

5 Germania, 1882 1020213 (4359093810)

6 Witches Flight Goya

7 The Young Sorceress by Antoine Wiertz

8 The Devil in Britain and America, 1896 Wellcome L0000137

9 A witch placing a scorpion into a pot in order to make a pot Wellcome V0025566

10 A compleat history of magik, sorcery, and wi Wellcome L0026620

11 Witchcraft and magic Wellcome L0031855

Credit for Images 2, 4, 8, 9, 10, & 11 : Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org . Copyrighted works available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Character Inspirations Part VI: The Demon Hunter


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The historical sources for Ghastly Affair’s Demon Hunter class range from the vampire-hunting dhampirs and vampirovici of the Balkans, to the witch-hunters that terrorized 17th century Europe and America. Oddly, the hunter of supernatural horrors seems not to have become an established literary trope until the 19th century. The earlier Gothics were thick with agents of the Inquisition, but those characters were always more interested in torturing innocent people than pursuing the actual forces of evil. In Sheridan Le Fanu’s story collection “In a Glass Darkly” (which includes both “Green Tea” and “Carmilla”) we find two scholars and adversaries of the supernatural – Doctor Hesselius, and Baron Vordenburg. Those characters were perhaps the inspirations for Bram Stoker’s iconic Doctor Abraham Van Helsing, easily the best-known and most-influential example of the Demon Hunter. Nowadays, the figure is such an expected part of horror novels, movies, and television shows that is easy to forget that it does not have especially deep roots in literary horror prior to the late 19th century. Nonetheless, it can be one of the most enjoyable archetypes to explore in the context of a role-playing game. With that in mind, here are some people, characters, songs, and images to help inspire the creation of your own Demon Hunter characters.

Some Historical Demon Hunters:
Matthew Hopkins
Karl Ferdinand Von Schertz [Author of “Magia Posthuma”]
Jean Chastel
Johann Heinrich Zopf (or Zopfius) [Author of “Dissertatio de Vampyris Serviensibus”]
Dom Augustin Calmet
Johann Joseph Gassner
Johann Flückinger [Austrian army surgeon who exhumed suspected vampires during the 1731 – 1732 hysteria in Serbia]
Cotton Mather

Some Literary Demon Hunters:
Thomas Carnacki (Carnacki, the Ghost Finder – William Hope Hodgson) [Multi Classed Demon Hunter / Magician]
Harry D’Amour (The Last Illusion, Everville, more. – Clive Barker)
Lila Davenport (Hunter’s Song – William Rutter)
Parl Dro (Kill the Dead – Tanith Lee)
Jonathan Harker (Dracula – Bram Stoker)
Dr. Martin Hesselius (In a Glass Darkly – Sheridan Le Fanu)
Solomon Kane (Red Shadows, etc. – Robert E. Howard)
Ann Radcliffe(!) (Vampire City – Paul Féval)
John Silence (John Silence, Physician Extraordinary – Algernon Blackwood) [Multi Classed Demon Hunter / Magician]
Doctor Abraham Van Helsing (Dracula – Bram Stoker)
Baron Vordenburg (Carmilla – Sheridan Le Fanu)

Special mention to Mina Harker. Although never explicitly stated in the text, the ending of “Dracula” can be read as implying that Mina and Jonathan Harker go on to further study and oppose the vampires of Transylvania.

I have included some examples of the “Occult Detective” variety, for those who prefer to run their Demon Hunters more as demonologists and investigators than slayers. Such characters could be allowed to make their Obsession be oriented towards solving supernatural mysteries, rather than always destroying monsters.

Some Demon Hunters from Movies and Television:
Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)
Nick Burkhardt (Grimm)
Clementine Chasseur (Hemlock Grove)
Ichabod Crane (Sleepy Hollow – TV Series)
Grégoire de Fronsac (Brotherhood of the Wolf)
Charles Gunn (Angel – TV Series)
Catriona Hartdegen (Penny Dreadful)
Carl Kolchak (Kolchak: the Night Stalker)
Captain Kronos (Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter)
Faith Lehane (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Jack Marshak (Friday the 13th: The Series)
Sir Malcolm Murray (Penny Dreadful)
Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Professor Timothy Eliot Stokes (Dark Shadows, House of Dark Shadows [Movie])
Peter Vincent (Fright Night)
Ash Williams (The Evil Dead)
Sam and Dean Winchester (Supernatural)

A Few Inspirational Songs:
Defender – Manowar
Evil – 45 Grave
Fight– The Cure
Flash of the Blade – Iron Maiden
God’s Gonna Cut You Down – Traditional. Versions by Johnny Cash, others.
No Quarter – Led Zeppelin
Screaming For Vengeance – Judas Priest
Wrathchild – Iron Maiden

Gallery of Images
1 Carmilla

2 John Hamilton Mortimer - Man attacking a monster - Google Art Project

3 Little Red Riding Hood (?) Wellcome V0049137

4 Ill dict infernal p0132-116 bourreau

Vampire Hysteria in the Eighteenth Century

Prior to the eighteenth century, vampires as such were largely unknown to Western Europe. There were certainly vampire-like beings thought to exist in various places, such as the lamia of classical legend, or the dearg dul of Ireland. However, the word “vampire” (from the Serbian vampir) didn’t enter into the mass consciousness of the West until several incidents in early 1700s Eastern Europe (the most famous of which were the cases of Arnold Paole and Petar Blagojevich). The panic spread across the lands controlled by the Austrian Habsburgs, in places (such as Serbia and Transylvania) where vampire hunting and destruction were long established practices. By the 1730s, the so-called “Vampire Controversy” was ignited in Western Europe by newspaper reports of recent vampire attacks in Serbia (and the subsequent openings of graves to destroy the supposed revenants). French, German, and English authors began discussing vampires in medical treatises, theological texts, and travel journals. Voltaire himself weighed in, stating that the only real vampires were involved in business, tax collection, and finance. By the 1740s, the vampire had become established as an object of fear in Western European countries where it had never before existed in folklore. It wasn’t until the publication of “The Vampyre: A Tale” in 1819, however, that the modern Western image of the vampire as a dapper aristocrat emerged.

Credit for Image 3 : Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org . Copyrighted works available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/