Servants and Retainers in a Grand House – Part 2 (Blacksmith to Dairy Maid)


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Morgenbezoek Rijksmuseum SK-A-1075

See Part 1 of “Servants and Retainers in a Grand House”.

The servants and retainers of a wealthy family can be every bit as interesting to role-play as the aristocrats themselves. The following draft excerpt from the upcoming “A Ghastly Companions to Castles, Mansions, and Estates” will aid Players and Presenters in creating and portraying the typical staff in an upper-class household.

Many servants and Retainers are listed under both their English and French titles. The prestigious status of French as the language of High Society during the Ghastly Age means it is not unknown for servants to be called by their French titles even in the most distant corners of Europe. Likewise, many servants must know at least a smattering of French words and phrases. A Lady’s Maid or Valet may even be expected to speak the language with passable facility. Remember that even within the borders of Ghastly Age France itself, fluency with the French language is not a given – most common people in Brittany still primarily speak Breton or Gallo, for example, and Provençal remains the everyday language of the south.

In terms of the Ghastly Affair rules, most servants and retainers are simply Everymen (or Everywomen), and the description of each type includes examples of the kinds of skills that would be subsumed as part of their “Professions” (or “Avocations”). Some may may actually be Leveled in exceptional Clases, however – Libertine, Demon Hunter, or even Magician! Also, certain servants and retainers might enjoy their +1 “Profession” (or “Avocation”) Bonus when making Saving Throws against hazards to which they are regularly exposed. The description will include examples of such accustomed dangers. When the servant has a Class other than Everyman, their professional skills can be represented as an Asset, or else one of their Class’ usual Special Abilities will be replaced with “Profession”.

Types of Servants and Retainers (Blacksmith to Dairy Maid)

Blacksmith [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Strength or Constitution.

The Blacksmith forges and repairs iron and steel objects, especially horseshoes, gardening tools, nails, and cookware. The estate Blacksmith will generally also serve as the Farrier, shoeing horses, and caring for their hooves. A Blacksmith will be somewhat resistant to the effects of smoke, fumes, and high temperatures, applying his +1 “Profession” Bonus to Saves against such hazards. The estate Blacksmith never lives in the great house itself, but will reside with his forge either in the Farmyard (Basse-Cour), or in a small cottage elsewhere on the property. Since he is not a house servant, he may be raising a family of his own on the estate, and thus take his meals with them.

A Blacksmith’s wages average 350p a week – 4550 per quarter, , or 18,200p a year. This rate includes 150p per week Board Wage.

Butler (Maître d’Hôtel, or Majordomo) [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Intelligence or Charisma.

The Butler (or Maître d’Hôtel) is the highest ranked male servant. His first and primary duty is to hold the keys to the Butlery (also called the Butler’s Pantry, or Office), where the silverware, fine porcelain, and most expensive food are stored. He also oversees the Wine Cellar, and is in charge of dinner service. In the absence of a House Steward or Estate Manager, he oversees the other male servants, and is responsible for the overall functioning of the house. A good Butler can sense when people are lying, and will be skilled at investigating the constant petty thefts committed by his fellow servants. He will be able to appraise the value of objects, and the worth of foodstuffs. He will be a connoisseur of wine especially. In fact, in most aristocratic households the family members seldom have any deep personal knowledge of food and wine, but rely on the Butler’s expertise instead. The Butler is the paymaster of the other servants when there is no House Steward or Estate Manager to do it. Thus, he must be literate, and good at mathematics.

A Butler’s wages average 300p per week – 3,900p per quarter, or 15,600p a year. He is also entitled to keep such things as cast-off clothing from the Lord of the house, the ends of candles, used playing cards, and the remainder of poured wines.

Cavalier Servente [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Charisma.

The Cavalier Servente (also called a Cicisbeo, or more euphemistically, a “Live-in”) is a man paid to be the social escort of a married woman. In Italy and southeastern Provence it is openly understood that the job includes satisfying the woman’s sexual needs, but elsewhere that aspect of the profession is always kept discreet. Aristocratic marriages in the Ghastly Age are about property and social status, so married aristocratic woman are not expected to love their husbands, or remain faithful after they have produced a male heir. In Venice, a man may pride himself in providing his wife with the most handsome and cultured Cavalier Servente he can afford, and the lover will usually be installed in a bedchamber (or suite) adjoining that of the wife. Such a Cavalier Servente must be available for his mistress’s use whenever she desires.

The Cavalier Servente will be skilled at dancing, conversation, seduction, etiquette, connoisseurship, and all the activities of High Society. He will have better than average…endurance. Often, he will be Leveled as a Libertine. Naturally, the Catholic church dislikes the institution of the Cavalier Servente and preaches against it, but they will not succeed in removing it from Italian society until after the Napoleonic wars.

Chaperone [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Wisdom.

A Chaperone is an older woman who accompanies an unmarried young woman whenever she leaves the house, to ensure that she remains a virgin. The job is often given to older spinsters in the family. In some places, such as Spain, the job is taken very seriously, and Chaperones are expected to be as overbearing as possible. A good Chaperone will develop skill at spotting hidden and sneaking people, and have an intuitive sense for when people are lying. Chaperones may even have some resistance to poison, as a result of frequently being drugged with soporifics! Their knowledge of the Language of Fans is usually out-of-date, however – a fact exploited by their charges (and their paramours). Some Libertines take especial pride in their ability to seduce Chaperones.

An interesting character could be a Libertine Chaperone, who secretly facilitates the corruption of the young lady in her charge, while maintaining a mask of impeccable respectability.

Chaplain (Aumônier) [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Charisma or Wisdom.

The Chaplin is a live-in clergyman that performs religious services in the chapel, collects alms for distribution to the local poor, and generally sees to the spiritual needs of the family. The aristocracy of the Ghastly Age are generally secular in their personal attitudes, even frequently impious. They seldom feel themselves to be in any way bound by the religion and morality that they promote as appropriate for the lower classes. Nonetheless, it is considered proper to make a show of religious faith, as an example for the commoners to emulate. Therefore, even agnostic and atheist nobility may maintain a Chaplain, as a matter of social convention. Even the Marquis de Sade, for example, actively encouraged church-going among his tenants.

It is not impossible for a Chaplain to be a White Magician, effecting actual miracles through Pacts with the Angels.

Coachman [Grounds Servant]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity.

The primary job of a Coachman is to drive the family coaches and vehicles. Very wealthy households may employ separate coachmen for the male and female member of the family. A Coachmen will be mechanically minded, have a good understanding of animal behavior, know how to to train animals, possess steady nerves, and have an intuitive sense of direction. Because of the threat of highwaymen, a Coachmen needs to be able to use a gun (an will usually have one ready when driving). Coachmen often live in the Coach House, and when not driving are expected to maintain their vehicles in top working condition.

A Coachman’s wage averages 150p a week – 1,950p per quarter, or 7,800p a year.

Concierge: See Porter

Cook (Cuisinière or Cuisinier) [House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Wisdom or Dexterity

The Cook oversees the kitchen staff, plans the menus, and ensures that meals are properly prepared. She keeps track of the items in kitchen storage rooms, pantries, and larders. Like the Kitchen Maids, a Cook will evidence a higher than average resistance to smoke and flame. Her knowledge of herbalism may be extensive, her skill with knives impressive, and she will be familiar with animal anatomy. A cook will almost always be literate, as she is responsible for the kitchen accounts. In a world of Gothic Romance, she might even be an initiated witch. In a British household the Cook is most frequently a woman, but in French practice a male Cook (Cuisinier) with a staff of Kitchen Boys is more usual. In Britain, a female Cook ranks under the Housekeeper, but in France the Cuisinier may run the house along with the Maître d’Hôtel.

A Cook’s knowledge of herbs may in fact come from being Leveled as Magician. A French Cuisinier may even be a Mad Scientist, pushing the limits of flavor beyond those imposed by Nature. Most horrifyingly, a Cook might also be a Cannibal who can transform the loathsome into the toothsome!

A female Cook in Britain might be paid as little as 100p per week (1,300p quarterly), while a French Cuisinier could have the status of a Retainer, and demand as much as 2,000p a week (26,000p quarterly). In a French household the Cuisinier is also given the leftovers of meals, the choicest of which can be re-sold as “Harlequins” in Paris (or the nearest city if the house is far from Paris).

Dance Master [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity

Being a bad dancer will inevitably lead to endless ridicule in High Society. Therefore, prominent Dance (or Dancing) Masters are frequently invited to give lessons in most Grand Houses, especially before a ball is to be held. Many households go so far as to keep a Dance Master as a permanent Retainer! Besides having knowledge of both classic and contemporary dances (because no young man or lady wants to be seen dancing last year’s steps), a Dance Master will usually keep abreast of the latest fashions, be familiar with modern music, and know the Language of Fans. Their memories will be particularly acute.

Many Libertines become Dance Masters, since the job give them access to pretty young ladies (and handsome lads) of quality!

Drawing Master [Retainer]
Strongest Ability: Dexterity

All upper-class young ladies in the Ghastly Age are expected to learn how to draw landscapes, objects, and people passably well. If their Governess’s own drawing abilities are not sufficient, a Drawing Master may be employed to teach more advanced techniques. Besides their artistic ability, a Drawing Master will usually have a good understanding of mathematics (in order to figure out perspective). As with a Music Master, the most prestigious Drawing Master to employ is an Italian.

Since they are artists, Drawing Masters are often the subjects of amorous fantasies. A Drawing Master may be a Libertine, skilled at convincing attractive subjects to disrobe in their presence. For Art, of course.

Dairy Maid [Grounds and House Servant]
Strongest Ability: Constitution

The Dairy (or Milk) Maid is responsible for milking the estate’s cows, making cheeses and butter, and storing them properly. She also bakes any breads that include milk or cheese. It is common for Dairy Maids to contract mild cowpox when young, which then gives them immunity to the much more virulent (and disfiguring) smallpox. Their reputation for having unblemished complexions thus gives rise to the expression “pretty as a Milkmaid”. They may be the subject of much amorous interest by the men of the household (and some of the women, of course), as well as many envious slights from other females. Although she is usually considered a Grounds Servant, the Dairy Maid will eat with the House Servants.

Naturally, some Dairy Maids are also True Innocents, which makes them all the more irresistible to the Libertines of High Society.

The Wages of Servants and Retainers

Wages for most male servants in the 1765 – 1820 era average about 100p per week, while those for most female servants average about 50p. In modern money that translates to about $50 US, and $25 US respectively. Male servants are given an outfit to wear, while male servants in livery (such as Footmen) will usually be given two suits. Females servants are not expected to wear any special uniform, and are therefore not generally provided with clothing by their employers (besides the cast-offs given to Lady’s Maids). Usually, a servant’s meals and washing are included as part of their compensation, but it is not unknown for them to be charged for both. Grounds servants who do not eat their meals in the house (such as the Gardener), will be given additional Board Wages (usually around 150p per week) to cover their meals and expenses.

Male Retainers can expect a middle-class income – about 1,500p a week, or 78,000p a year. Governesses (and other female Retainers) are relatively poorly paid, however – only earning about 200p a week on average.

Visitors to most Grand Houses are expected to tip the servants before leaving. In many houses, certain members of the staff will be permitted to line up by the front entrance in order to receive these payments, called “vails”. The expected amount is 10 – 12p: a Shilling, Livre, or Franc. For some servants (especially Pages, Hall Boys and Halls Maids), these vails are the only actual pay they receive.

Note that even though wages are expressed on a per week basis, a servant or retainer would almost never be actually paid weekly. Usually, they would be paid quarterly. Since the Lord of an estate was usually also the legal authority for its residents, a lengthy delay in the payment of a servant’s wages was not at all unusual (even were it was illegal).

In remember, in terms of historical money 240p = 1 Pound, 10p = 1 Livre (pre-Revolution), 12p = 1 Franc (post-Revolution), and 80p = 1 Spanish Peso (or Dollar).


Servants and Retainers in a Grand House – Part 1


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The following draft excerpt from the upcoming “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates” is a rough guide to the staff that might be present in a Grand House during the late 18th to early 19th centuries. The lists assume the English or French practices of household management. In much of Europe it was actually common, however, for most of the servants to be undifferentiated in their duties, and have their tasks assigned to them day-to-day. Nonetheless, any particular household might also have followed the English or French models. The same basic setup of servants was actually practiced well into the 20th century, making the table useful for games set in the Second Empire, Belle Epoch, Victorian, and Edwardian eras, as well as the Georgian, Regency, and Napoleonic.

As a rough guideline to an aristocratic family‘s income in the late 18th century, figure about 9p per week in rent per acre of land they own, plus an additional 25% on top (for such things as rents on urban properties, mines, sale of estate produce, shares of stock, government bonds, tolls, and even still-active feudal obligations). A family that owns 1,000 acres might thus have an income of about 11,250p per week, which in terms of actual 18th century currencies translates to £2,438 (or 48,750 francs) per year. That family would expect to spend about 25% of its income on servants and retainers. Remember that it was considered deeply shameful (and was actually illegal in many places ) for an aristocrat to work at any trade for money, or have any actual employment at all besides tending their estate, collecting rents, being a government official, or serving as a military commander. Many aristocrats would eventually wind up up deeply in debt (and forced to sell off their estates) to wealthy financiers.

The house and grounds are…

…barely staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 2,000p per week – £434, or 8,667 francs per year. If the house is large, part will be sealed off and never used.)

Female House Servants:
1 Maid-of-all-Work (or Servante).

Male House Servants:
1 Manservant.
1d4 Pages.

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.

1 Governess, or 1 Secretary (The Governess will probably be a long-suffering orphan with a tragic or mysterious past, willing to take work with a family fallen on hard times.)

…modestly staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 4,000p per week – £867, or 17,334 francs per year.)

Female House Servants:
1 Cook (or Cuisinière)*.
1d4 Housemaids.
1 Nursery Maid.
1 Lady’s Maid (or Femme de Chambre).

* In a French household the Cook (Cuisinier) and kitchen staff are likely to be male.

Male House Servants:
1 Manservant.
1d4 Pages.
1 Coachman.

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.
1 Groom.

1 Governess, or 1 Secretary.

3 – 4
…fully staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 12,000p per week – £2,600, or 52,000 francs per year.)

Female House Servants:
1 Housekeeper (or Gouvernante).
1 Cook (or Cuisinière)*.
1d3 Housemaids.
1 Nurse Maid.
1 Lady’s Maid.
1 Laundry Maid. (Only in English-style households.)
1d2 Kitchen Maids*.
1 Scullery Maid or Scullion.

* In a French household the Cook (Cuisinier) and kitchen staff are likely to be male.

Male House Servants:
1 Butler (or Maître d’Hôtel).
1d4 Pages.
1d4 Footmen (or Laquais).
1 Coachman.
1 Valet (or Valet de Chambre).
1 Handyman.
1 Porter (or Suisse).

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.
1 Groom.
1 Stable Boy.
1 Postilion.

Also on a country estate:
1 Dairy Maid.

1 Governess.
1 Secretary.
1 Tutor.

…well staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 18,000p per week – £3,900, or 78,000 francs per year.)

Female House Servants:
1 Housekeeper (or Gouvernante).
1 Cook (or Cuisinière)*.
1 Upper Housemaid. (Only in English-style households.)
1d4+1 Lower Housemaids.
1 Nurse Maid.
Lady’s Maids (One for each adult female family member)
1 Laundry Maid. (Only in English-style households.)
1d4 Kitchen Maids*.
1d2 Scullery Maids, or Scullions.
1 Still Maid.
1 Hall Maid.

* In a French household the Cook (Cuisinier) and kitchen staff are likely to be male.

Male House Servants:
1 Butler (or Maître d’Hôtel).
1d6 Pages.
2d4 Footmen (or Laquais).
1 Coachman.
Valets (One for each adult male family member).
1 Handyman.
1 Underbutler (or Officier).
1 Porter (or Suisse).
1 Hall Boy.

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.
1 Groom.
1d4 Stable Boys.
1 Postilions.

Also on a country estate:
1 Dairy Maid.
1 Shepherd or Pastor.
1 Blacksmith.
1 Assistant Gardener.
1 Huntsman.

Governesses (one for each female child).
1 Secretary.
1d2 Tutors.
1 Lady’s Companion (or Demoiselle de Compagnie).
1 Chaplain (or Aumônier).

extravagantly staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 30,000p per week – £6,500, or 130,000 francs per year.)

Female House Servants:
1 Housekeeper (or Gouvernante).
1 Cook (or Cuisinière)*.
1 Upper Housemaid. (Only in English-style households.)
2d4 Lower Housemaids.
1d2 Nurse Maids.
Lady’s Maids (One for each adult female family member).
2 Laundry Maids. (Only in English-style households.)
2d4 Kitchen Maids*.
1d4 Scullery Maids, or Scullions.
1 Still Maid.
1 Hall Maid.

* In a French household the Cook (Cuisinier) and kitchen staff are likely to be male.

Male House Servants:
1 Butler (or Maître d’Hôtel).
1d6 Pages.
2d4 Footmen (or Laquais).
1 Men’s Coachmen.
1 Women’s Coachmen.
Valets (One for each adult male family member).
1 Handyman.
1 Underbutler (or Officier).
1d4 Porters (or Suisses).
1d4 Guards.
2 Hall Boys.

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.
1 Groom.
1d4 Stable Boys.
2 Postilions.
1d6 Guards.

Also on a country estate:
1 Dairy Maid.
1 Shepherd or Pastor.
1 Blacksmith.
1 Kennel Master.
1 Gamekeeper.
1 Forester.
1d4 Assistant Gardeners.
1 Huntsman.
1 Whipper-in.

1 Estate Manager (or Intendant).
Governesses (one for each female child).
Chaperones (one for each unmarried woman 14 years or older).
1 Secretary.
1 Librarian.
1 Chamber Nurse or Physician.
1d4 Tutors.
Lady’s Companions (or Demoiselles de Compagnie) for each married woman of the family.
1 Chaplain (or Aumônier).
1 Dance Master.
1 Drawing Master.
1 Occult Consultant (Alchemist, Astrologer, Card Reader, Seer, Mesmerist, etc.).
1 Ornamental Hermit.


Any household of means will also employ a Lawyer, but they will seldom actually live in the House.

As noted above, French households tended to employ male Cuisiniers and Garçons de Cuisine (Kitchen Boys), rather than female Cooks and Kitchen Maids. The Cuisinier had a higher status in France than the Cook did in England, and was usually co-manager of the house staff with the Maître d’Hôtel. Outside France, a French Cuisinier might be brought on staff and paid as a retainer, rather than a servant.

British houses would generally employ a larger percentage of female servants relative to similar households in other countries, because a British family had to pay a special tax on each male servant in their employ. French households tended to be smaller overall than British ones.

The French “Gouvernante” literally means “Governess”, and was used to indicate both the Governess who teaches children, and a servant equivalent to the English “Housekeeper”. Likewise, “Suisse” (“Swiss”) was the term for both Porters and Guards.

Only English-style households would divide the Housemaids into a senior Upper Housemaid and junior Lower Housemaids.

French households would not have dedicated Laundry Maids, because French practice was to store used linens in a large storeroom (Lingerie), and wash them yearly.

Note that if the family employed a number of servant and retainers out of proportion to their actual wealth, they must have been be deeply in debt, dependent on patronage, or engaged in some illicit enterprise to raise funds.

A Ghastly Potpourri – Now Available on RPGNow and DriveThruRPG!


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“A Ghastly Potpourri” is blooming with possibilities for the Ghastly Affair RPG, and other dark OSR games!

GMs and players of any game set in the late Georgian, Regency, French Revolutionary, and Napoleonic eras will also find much of interest, as will anyone gaming in the Horror, Dark Fantasy, Weird Fantasy, Dreadpunk, Mannerpunk, Steampunk, or Austen-punk genres.

Inside you’ll find:

    • New Character Options, for more interesting Ghastly Affair PCs!
    • Lists of Character Inspirations, from history and media!
    • New Preternatural Effects and Weird Objects, to delight and terrify!
    • Creatures and Adversaries, with stats for Ghastly Affair and other OSR games! Includes new re-imaginings of two classic OSR monsters.
    • The Incarnations of Spiritual Powers, from Kubla Khan who dwells in Xanadu, to The Queen of the Night!
    • Random Tables, to inspire scenarios and dark adventures!

    Plus, an Original Short Story by the author of the Ghastly Affair novel “Hunter’s Song”!

Available in PDF and softcover print.

Its Time is Coming Soon…


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Character Options.
Inspirational Lists.
New Preternatural Effects and Weird Objects.
Creatures and Adversaries.
Random Tables.

PDF and Softcover Print.

On RPGNow and DriveThruRPG:

Random Portraits in Grand Houses


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Anna Alexandrovna Galitzin, nee Gruzinsky

Grand Houses of the 18th and 19th century (such as Highdark Hall) were crammed with paintings, especially portraits of family members. This draft excerpt from the upcoming “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates” will help you create descriptions of such paintings on the fly.

Male Portrait

d6 The subject is a…


young boy…


young man…

3 – 5

mature man…


older man…

d6 whose build is…
1 – 3 average,
4 thin,
5 athletic,
6 corpulent,
d20 and who looks….


































strangely pale.


surprisingly swarthy.





d12 He is wearing…
1 a predominantly blue outfit,
2 a predominantly red outfit,
3 a predominantly black outfit (of mourning),
4 a predominantly white outfit,
5 a predominantly yellow outfit,
6 a predominantly purple outfit,
7 an outfit of fur and velvet,
8 a multi-colored outfit,
9 a somber outfit,
10 a military uniform,
11 armor,
12 clothes that were archaic even when the painting was executed,
d10 and is… NOTES
1 standing…
2 seated..
3 atop a horse… Ignore results of 5 or below in next table.
4 hunting… Ignore results of 5 or below in next table.
5 looking at a curio
6 painting..
7 shown standing, from the chest up…
8 shown standing, from the knees up…
9 shown seated, from the chest up…
10 shown seated, from the knees up…
d20 amid….
1 a richly appointed bedchamber.
2 an opulent drawing room.
3 a salon.
4 a cabinet of curiosities.
5 a curtained interior.
6 a military encampment.
7 a village of happy peasants.
8 the facade of the house itself.
9 an unidentified castle.
10 a country lane.
11 a classical ruin.
12 a field of clouded color.
13 a ruined castle.
14 a formal French garden.
15 a ruined cathedral.
16 a forest.
17 a mountainous landscape.
18 a rolling countryside, with trees in the far distance.
19 horses (or farm animals) in the countryside.
20 a slaughtered stag (or other game animal) in the forest.
d20 A notable feature of the portrait is…
1 it looks as though the subject may once have been wearing a different outfit, which has been painted over.

the skull at his feet.


one hand is pointing to the opened text of an infamous book.


it includes another depiction of an unidentified person.


it is amateurishly executed.


it is masterwork, but from an unknown artist.


the strange use of perspective.


the bizarrely clashing colors.


its trompe l’oeil execution looks amazingly three-dimensional.


the Chinese outfit he is wearing.


he is wearing a turban.


his hands and overall body shape seem oddly feminine, as if the model was actually a woman.


he has a visible tattoo on his hand.


the strange cloud formations in the sky above (or visible through a window).


it is so highly varnished (or glazed) that you see yourself reflected on the surface.


it looks as through they may once have been a second figure who has been painted out.


the clearly identifiable talisman ring he wears.


the unidentifiable animals that are also part of the composition.


the way its eyes seem to follow you.


the presence of numerous animals, evidently pets.

Female Portrait

d8 The subject is a…


young girl…

2 – 4

young woman…

5 – 7

mature woman…


older woman…

d6 whose build is…
1 – 3 average,
4 willowy,
5 voluptuous,
6 corpulent,
d12 and who looks notably….
1 excited.
2 amused.
3 attractive.
4 fashion-conscious.
5 flirtatious.
6 placid.
7 cruel.
8 nervous.
9 haunted.
10 sad.
11 pale.
12 dark-complexioned.
d12 She is wearing…
1 a predominantly blue outfit,
2 a predominantly red outfit,
3 a predominantly black outfit (of mourning),
4 a predominantly white outfit,
5 a predominantly yellow outfit,
6 a predominantly purple outfit,
7 a multi-colored outfit,
8 a somber outfit,
9 furs and velvet,
10 a masquerade outfit,
11 the clothing of a Greek goddess,
12 clothes that were archaic even when the painting was executed,
d20 and is…
1 standing…
2 seated…
3 riding a horse… (roll again if next table indicates an interior)
4 reclining on a couch…
5 praying…
6 displaying her hand fan…
7 reading…
8 engaged in her toilette…
9 holding (or arranging) flowers…
10 sewing…
11 painting… (with watercolors or pastels)
12 drawing…
13 holding her dog (or cat)…
14 at the harpsichord or pianoforte…
15 holding an infant…
16 shown from the bust up…
17 standing, shown from the waist up…
18 standing, shown from the knees up…
19 seated, shown form the waist up…
20 seated, shown from the knees up…
d20 amid….
1 a richly appointed bedchamber.
2 an opulent drawing room.
3 a salon.
4 a dressing table, with her lady’s maid.
5 a curtained interior.
6 her art (or music) studio.
7 a forest.
8 a mountainous landscape.
9 a rolling countryside, with trees in the far distance.
10 horses (or farm animals) in the countryside.
11 a garden pool.
12 a village of happy peasants.
13 the facade of the house itself.
14 an unidentified castle.
15 a country lane.
16 a classical ruin.
17 a ruined cathedral.
18 a ruined castle.
19 a formal French garden.
20 a field of clouded color.
d20 A notable feature of the portrait is…
1 her breasts are exposed. (Roll again, of course, if subject is not an adult.)
2 she is pinching an exposed nipple. Possibly, that of another woman. (Roll again,of course, if subject is not an adult.)
3 she is holding a horsewhip.
4 she is holding a sword (or other weapon).
5 more attention appears to have been paid to her jewelry than anything else.
6 the presence of a skull.
7 the presence of one or more pets.
8 it includes another depiction of an unidentified person.
9 it is amateurishly executed.
10 it is masterwork, but from an unknown artist.
11 the Chinese outfit she is wearing.
12 her Turkish outfit.
13 the strange cloud formations in the sky above (or visible through a window).
14 it is so highly varnished (or glazed) that you see yourself reflected on the surface.
15 it looks as through they may once have been a second figure who has been painted out.
16 it’s hard to tell if the cross she wears is actually inverted, or if that is just a trick of color and perspective.
17 the unidentifiable animals that are also part of the composition.
18 she is attended by masked servants who show no visible skin.
19 it smells intensely of perfume.
20 for some reason the artist has depicted all of her imperfections.

Note that portraits of upper-class women will almost always soften and idealize their actual features, and omit any blemishes. Even if an upper-class woman actually has an athletic build she will generally not be painted that way, because it suggests that she labors like a servant. It is also common for female subjects to be depicted as younger than their actual age at the time of the sitting.

Portraits showing women with exposed breasts were not considered outrageous in aristocratic circles before the 19th century, because they emphasized the subject’s femininity and fertility. Later in the 19th century such portraits were often altered to conform to the new standards of propriety.

Dimensions of a Painting

d20 The painting is…


a tall rectangle 2′ high, and 1.5′ in width.


a tall rectangle 3′ high, and 2′ in width.


a tall rectangle 4′ high, and 2.5′ in width.


a tall rectangle 5′ high, and 3.5′ in width.


a tall rectangle 6′ high, and 4′ in width.


a tall rectangle 7′ high, and 4.5′ in width.


a wide rectangle 2′ across, and 1.5′ high. (Unusual for portraits)


a wide rectangle 3′ across, and 2′ high. (Unusual for portraits)


a wide rectangle 4′ across, and 2.5′ high. (Unusual for portraits)


a wide rectangle 5′ across, and 3.5′ high. (Unusual for portraits)


a wide rectangle 6′ across, and 4′ high. (Unusual for portraits)


a wide rectangle 7′ across, and 4.5′ high. (Unusual for portraits)


a square 2′ across.


a square 3′ across.


a square 4′ across.


a circle (tondo) 2′ in diameter.


a circle (tondo) 3′ in diameter.


a circle (tondo) 4′ in diameter.


an oval 3′ tall, and 2′ in width.


an oval 3′ in width, and 2′ high.

Age of the Painting

d8 The painting was created…
1 Recently (within the last 10 years)
2 10 to 20 years ago.
3 – 4 20 to 50 years ago.
5 100 to 150 years ago.
6 150 to 200 years ago.
7 250 to 300 years ago.
8 300 to 350 years ago.

The Frame

d100, 2d4 times The gilded design of the sculptured frame incorporates…
1 – 6 palmettes
7 – 12 rosettes
13 – 18 volutes
19 – 24 acanthus leaves
25 – 30 cartouches
31 – 37 s–shaped curves
38 – 44 c–shaped curves.
45 – 46 seashells
47 – 48 cupids
49 – 50 stags
51 – 52 rays of glory
53 – 54 a green-man’s face
55 – 56 a satyr’s face
57 – 58 nymphs
59 – 60 a dart-and-egg design
61 – 62 Corinthian columns
63 – 64 Ionic columns
65 – 66 Doric columns
67 – 68 roses
69 – 70 fleurs-de-lis
71 – 72 oak leaves
73 – 74 vines
75 – 76 scrolls
77 – 78 branches
79 – 80 curlicues
81 – 82 grapes
83 – 84 tendrils
85 – 86 birds
87 – 88 acorns
89 – 90 apples
91 – 92 pears
93 – 94 ostrich feathers
95 – 96 masks
97 – 98 marbleized polychrome accents
99 – 100 painted polychrome accents

33% OFF the Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual PDF for GM’s Day!


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The Illustrated PDF Version of the Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual is now 33% OFF on RPGNow and DriveThruRpg, as part of their GM’s Day celebration!

Even if you don’t play Ghastly Affair, the Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual is filled with resources for running better Gothic, Horror, Georgian-era, Napoleonic, Regency, Austen-inspired, Mannerpunk, and Dreadpunk games. Besides extensive notes on the themes and motifs of Gothic and Romantic fiction, and clear advice on creating and running game sessions, it includes a year-by-year chronology of events in Europe between 1765 and 1820 – with an emphasis on the strange, the shocking, and the scandalous.

Get yours now!

Sale ends 3/12/18.

Notes on New Classes for GROOVY Ghastly Affair


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I’ve previously posted about my plans for a supplement updating Ghastly Affair for the Swinging Sixties and Groovy Seventies. The following are the new Classes I’m considering for GROOVY Ghastly Affair. None of them are playtested yet, of course, so a lot is likely to change as the supplement evolves.


The Biker is something of a replacement for the Gypsy, filling the role of the abjected outsider. They would also be strong in combat, like the Bandit. I could see an entire Saga where all the PCs are Bikers traveling the roads, battling both The Man, and supernatural evil.

Ability Adjustment: Strength +1, Dexterity +1,
Special Abilities: Danger Bonus (+1), Motorcycle Riding (+1), Brawl (+1), Intimidation (+1), Build and Repair Machines (+1)
Weaknesses: Social Discrimination (as Gypsy), Rivals (enemy bikers will cause some kind of trouble for the character every Affair)
Hit Dice: d10
Experience Points to Reach 2nd Level: 6, + 4 per Level after
Damage Bonus Increases: Every Level

Advances as a Fighter in other OSR games.


The Player would choose whether their Investigator is a Police Detective (inspired by characters like Columbo and Kojak), Private Eye (inspired by characters such as John Shaft and Charlie’s Angels), or Investigative Journalist (inspired by characters like Carl Kolchak). Undercover vigilantes inspired by characters like Foxy Brown or Coffy could also be represented by this Class.

Ability Adjustment: Wisdom +2
Special Abilities: Danger Bonus (+1), Detect Lies (+1), Disguise (+1), Sneak (+1). Police Detectives can call in Police Backup, Private Eyes gain 1 Private Informant per Level, and Investigative Journalists are skilled in Investigative Research.
Weaknesses: Criminal Nemesis (as Demon Hunter, but a human criminal), Attracts Trouble (every Affair, someone involved in a crime will try to draw the Investigator in.)
Hit Dice: d8
Experience Points to Reach 2nd Level: 8, + 4 per Level after
Damage Bonus Increases: Every Level after 1st.

Advances as a Cleric if used with other OSR rules.


Basically an update of the Bandit Class. Probably needs more work to really emulate the literary/cinematic Gangsters of the late 20th century.

Ability Adjustment: Dexterity +2
Special Abilities: Capturing (+1), Danger Bonus (+1), Concealment(+1), Fame (as Bandot), Intimidation (+1)
Weaknesses: Hard Luck (as Bandit), Infamy (as Bandit)
Hit Dice: d8
Experience Points to Reach 2nd Level: 8, + 4 per Level after
Damage Bonus Increases: Every Level after 1st.

Advances as a Thief if used with other OSR rules.

Maudit (Cursed Artist)

Inspired by historical figures such as Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud, and characters like Sam Evans from “Dark Shadows”. This would also work for regular Ghastly Affair.

Ability Adjustment: Wisdom +2
Special Abilities: Artistry (+1), Dark Patron (such as a powerful Vampyre, a Dark Fairy, or Satan himself), Local Haunt (their favorite bar or club, where they can get refuge and obtain information), Perception (+1), Prophetic Artwork (made toward the beginning of each Affair, and contains clues of which the artist isn’t even aware)
Weaknesses: Addiction (always an alcoholic, or addicted to some drug), Outrageous Fortune (some outrageous catastrophe will affect himself, a friend, or a family member every Affair)
Hit Dice: d6
Experience Points to Reach 2nd Level: 6, + 4 per Level after
Damage Bonus Increases: 2nd, 5th, & 8th Level

Advances as a Thief if used with other OSR rules.


Inspired by characters such as Roger Collins (from “Dark Shadows”), Gomez Addams, and Johnny Alucard (from “Dracula 1972 AD”). Replaces the Libertine, which (as written) is more suited to the 18th century than the 20th.

Ability Adjustment: Charisma +2
Special Abilities: Charm (+1), Disguise (+1), Fraud (+1), Sneak (+1), Fashion Sense
Weaknesses: Weak-willed (vulnerable to Seduction and becoming addicted) and Wastrel (compelled to gamble, and pay twice as much for everything)
Hit Dice: d6
Experience Points to Reach 2nd Level: 6, + 4 per Level after
Damage Bonus Increases: 2nd, 5th, & 8th Level

Advances as a Thief if used with other OSR rules.


The ubiquitous psychic researcher of late 60s /early 70s horror. Inspired by characters such as Dr. John Markway ( “The Haunting”), Dr. Lionel Barrett (“The Legend of Hell House”), and Dr. Peter Guthrie (“Dark Shadows”).

Ability Adjustment: Intelligence +2
Special Abilities: Academic Credentials (as Mad Scientist), Discover Secrets (+1 when trying to find hidden areas, or secret information), Esoteric Knowledge (+1), Magical Rituals (one learned per Level), Scientific Knowledge (+1)
Weaknesses: Marked by the Supernatural (supernatural beings always direct their attention towards the Parapsychologist), Obsessed with Mysteries (compelled to solve enigmas)
Hit Dice: d6
Experience Points to Reach 2nd Level: 6, + 4 per Level after
Damage Bonus Increases: 2nd, 6th, & 10th Level

Advances as a Cleric if used with other OSR rules.

Psychic (Seer)

Another Class that would also work well for regular Ghastly Affair, as the “Seer”. Inspired in the modern age by characters such as Florence Tanner (“The Legend of Hell House”), Ben Fischer (“The Legend of Hell House”), Theodora (“The Haunting”), and David Collins (“Dark Shadows”).

Ability Adjustment: Wisdom +2
Special Abilities: Choose (or randomly determine) five Psychic Powers. To use a Psychic Power, make a Wisdom Check with a Penalty equal to the Power’s Level. If successful, the User also suffers Nonlethal Damage equal to the Power’s Level. If the Check is failed, the Power can still be activated, but inflicts Lethal Hit Point damage equal to the Power’s Level.
Weaknesses: Debilitating Visions (once per Affair the Psychic will have an awful dream or vision that inflicts 1d6 points of Nonlethal Damage, but also provides a useful clue to the Affair), Unnerving Presence (Must always make Charisma Check when meeting new people, or they will initially dislike and avoid the Psychic)
Hit Dice: d4
Experience Points to Reach 2nd Level: 10, + 4 per Level after
Damage Bonus Increases: 2nd, 6th, & 10th Level

Advances as a Magic User / Wizard if used with other OSR rules.

Psychic Powers


One of the Psychic’s Powers is..
1 Astral Projection (Level 5)
2 – 4 Augury (Level 2)
5 – 6 Calm Animals (Level 1)
7 – 10 Clairvoyance (Level 4)
11 – 14 Clairaudience (Level 3)
15 – 16 Combust (Level 1) (also see “A Ghastly Potpourri”)
17 – 18 Commune With Spirit (Level 5)
10 – 20 Cure Light Wounds (Level 1)
21 Elf Stroke (Level 1)
22 – 23 Exorcism(Level 5)
24 Find Person (Level 4) (also see “A Ghastly Potpourri”)
25 – 26 Hide Thoughts (Level 2)
27 – 30 Hypnotism (Level 1)
31 Identify (Level 1)
32 Ignore Pain (Level 1)
33 – 34 Know Direction (Level 0)
35 – 36 Locate Creature (Level 5)
37 – 38 Locate Object (Level 3)
39 Major Creation (Level 5)
40 – 43 Mediumship (Voluntary mental Possession by a Spirit, which can be ended by either the Psychic or the Spirit. Probably Level 1)
44 – 45 Mesmeric Healing (Level 2)
46 Minor Creation (Level 3)
47 – 48 Nondetection (Level 3)
49 – 50 Obtain Oracle (Level 4)
51 Overwhelming Fear (Level 4)
52 Phantasmagoria I (Level 1)
53 Phantasmal Killer (Level 5)
53 – 54 Possess Beast (Level 3) (also see “A Ghastly Potpourri”)
55 – 56 Prestidigitation (Level 0)
57 – 58 Projected Double (Level 5)
59 – 60 Protection From Evil (Level 1)
61 – 62 Read Minds (Level 2)
63 – 64 Remove Disease (Level 3)
65 – 66 Remove Fear (Level 1)
67 – 68 Restoration (Level 5)
69 – 70 Scare (Level 2)
71 – 75 Scrying (Level 5)
76 – 79 See Invisibility (Level 2)
80 Shower of Stones (Level 1)
81 – 83 Sorcerer’s Hand (Level 0)
84 – 85 Speak With Animals (Level 2)
86 – 87 Speak With Dead (Level 2)
88 – 89 Speak With Plants (Level 2)
90 – 91 Suggestion (Level 3)
92 – 96 Telekinesis (Level 5)
97 – 98 Telepathic Bond (Level 5)

99 – 100

True Seeing (Level 5)


As for the existing Classes, Demon Hunter, Everyman, Magician, and Mad Scientist would be used unchanged.

The True Innocent of the Swinging Sixties and Groovy Seventies would no longer have the “Fainting” Weakness. It would be replaced with something like “Honest to a Fault”, indicating that the Innocent is a very bad liar, who shakes and stammers when they try to deceive. Even when they do lie successfully, the truth always comes out. The big inspiration here is Victoria Winters from “Dark Shadows”, of course.

The Bandit, Grave Robber, Gypsy and Libertine Classes are perhaps more suited for games set in the late 18th / early 19th century. However, since the intrusion of the past into the present is major thematic hallmark of the Gothic, characters seemingly (or even actually) from another time might indeed be present in the “modern” world of GROOVY Ghastly Affair.

The Desires of Restless Houses


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Glammis Castle 1852

The castles and grand houses of Gothic stories are not simply background settings, but characters in their own right. The first Gothic novel is titled “The Castle of Otranto”, rather than “The Dark Scheme of Manfred”. Rightful ownership of the Castle is central to the plot. Emily Brontë’s tale of mad, destructive love and its catastrophic consequences is not “Heathcliff, Catherine, and the Lintons”, but “Wuthering Heights”. The ancient home of the Earnshaw family is as much a participant in the story as any of the flesh and blood characters.

A Restless House is not just a mute witness to the dramas that unfold within its walls. Like other Gothic characters, it is obsessed with the fulfillment of its own needs, and can lash out at those who thwart its desires. A Restless House differs from a true Haunted House in that the strange events within its walls are not necessarily caused by an indwelling Ghost, Fairy, or other such entity (although an Restless House may also be Haunted by one or more Spirits). Rather, it is the house itself that hungers for satisfaction.

The unusual Preternatural means of dealing with angry Spirits (Exorcism, Summoning, Binding, etc.) are completely ineffective against an Restless House, because there is no Spirit to control. Such Effects might expel any Ghosts or spirits trapped in (or drawn to) the House, but cannot lay the House itself to rest. Likewise, Faith is ineffectual, because the House cannot flee the presence of the virtuous. There are only two things that can be done – learn and submit to the House’s desires, or discover its Heart and lull the House to sleep.

d100 The House wants…
1 – 2 to expel any family except its original owners.
3 – 4 to have new owners.
5 – 6 for its secret parts to be uncovered.
7 – 8 for its secret parts to remain unknown.
9 – 10 to reveal a crime once committed inside.
11 – 12 to conceal a crime once committed inside.
13 – 14 to be improved, or restored to its former glory.
15 – 16 to slide into ruin.
17 – 18 to be enlarged with many additions.
19 – 20 to have portions closed off.
21 –22 to be filled with guests.
23 – 24 to be empty and silent.
25 – 26 to be filled with beautiful art.
27 – 28 to be plain and unadorned.
29 – 30 for its inhabitants to be healthy
31 – 32 for its inhabitants to be stricken with disease.
33 – 34 to glorify the name of its builder.
35 – 36 to blacken the name of its builder.
37 – 38 to be crawling with animals.
39 – 40 to be free of animal inhabitants (especially vermin).
41 – 42 to always have a ball or party happening inside.
43 – 44 to never have balls or parties occur within.
45 – 46 for the family to grow.
47 – 48 for the family to be barren, and wither away.
49 – 50 for its estate to be enlarged.
51 – 52 for the tenants of its estate to be treated with fairness and generosity.
53 – 54 for its library to constantly grow.
55 – 56 for the first-born of the family to die on the estate before their 21stbirthday.
57 – 58 for the inhabiting family to die violently
59 – 60 to protect its family from all violence.
61 – 62 to be famous.
63 – 64 to be forgotten.
65 – 66 for the produce of its estate to be enjoyed.
67 – 68 for no one to eat food grown on its estate.
69 – 70 to have only beautiful servants inside.
71 – 72 to have only homely servants inside.
73 – 74 for its inhabitants to be sober.
75 – 76 for its rooms to always be warm.
77 – 78 for its rooms to always be cold.
79 – 80 for its interior to be filled with light.
81 – 82 for its interior to be dark and shadowy.
83 – 84 for its inhabitants to be pious.
85 – 86 for no religious ceremonies to be performed inside its walls.
87 – 88 for the family to stay on its estate.
89 – 90 for the family to seldom be on the estate.
91 – 92 for its owners to always be kind to gypsies, and other wanderers who seek shelter on the estate.
93 – 94 to have no strangers on the estate.
95 – 96 to have a certain language never be spoken inside.
97 – 98 for its inhabitants and guests to know love.
99 – 100 for there to be no love made inside its walls.
d100 The House communicates its desires through…
1 – 2 the words of its Lord.
3 – 4 the words of its Lady.
5 – 6 the words of the butler.
7 – 8 the words of the housekeeper.
9 – 10 the words of the youngest female servant.
11 – 12 the words of the youngest male servant.
13 – 14 the actions of a family pet.
15 – 16 the actions of the rats (or other house vermin).
17 – 18 the patterns of spiderwebs on the estate.
19 – 20 the behavior of the birds around the house.
21 –22 the behavior of the family’s horses.
23 – 24 the peculiar fungal growths on the exterior walls.
25 – 26 the growth and apparent movement of the trees.
27 – 28 the growth patterns of the grass.
29 – 30 the peculiar weather around the house.
31 – 32 the shape of the clouds above the house.
33 – 34 the sound of the wind around the estate.
35 – 36 the health of the animals on the estate.
37 – 38 dreams and other omens experienced by the young orphan governess (who is actually a descendant of the house’s original owners).
39 – 40 the dreams of house-guests.
41 – 42 the spectral apparition of the house’s architect.
43 – 44 the spectral apparition of the house’s first master.
45 – 46 the spectral apparition of the house’s first mistress.
47 – 48 the spectral apparition of a small girl.
49 – 50 the spectral apparition of a small boy.
51 – 52 the spectral apparition of an animal.
53 – 54 fleeting images seen on the surface of a pond on the estate.
55 – 56 a book that blows open to telling illustrations and passages.
57 – 58 a portrait or other painting that seems to change its colors, or luminosity.
59 – 60 the gestures of spectral, disembodied limbs.
61 – 62 patterns seen in the mist that rises off a pond or lake.
63 – 64 flashing images seen in a particular window.
65 – 66 words traced in the dust, wherever it accumulates.
67 – 68 images seen in the flames of the fireplace.
69 – 70 sudden alterations in temperature.
71 – 72 the inexplicable odor of certain perfumes.
73 – 74 messages written in chalk on the walls.
75 – 76 a disembodied male voice.
77 – 78 a disembodied female voice.
79 – 80 the words of a visiting raven, or a parrot kept as a pet.
81 – 82 the taste of the food served in the house.
83 – 84 the shapes of the shadows on the walls.
85 – 86 faces that mysteriously appear on the floors and walls.
87 – 88 images flashing in the silverware.
89 – 90 faint whispers on the wind.
91 – 92 groans from within an ancient suit of armor.
93 – 94 the mysterious appearance of certain objects.
95 – 96 certain hands repeatedly occurring in card games.
97 – 98 a silent figure shrouded completely in black.
99 – 100 the inexplicable movement of an ancient sword.

Naturally, the communication may be quite challenging to interpret correctly. Note that any apparitions created by the house are not true Ghosts, and are therefore not subject to Faith or any Preternatural effects relating to Spirits (or the Undead).

d100 If the House’s desires are repeatedly thwarted or defied…
1 – 2 valuable objects will fall down (or off the walls) and be damaged.
3 – 4 a violent storm will strike the area.
5 – 6 the animals on the estate will turn vicious.
7 – 8 the family’s horses and livestock will sicken and die.
9 – 10 sickness will strike the house’s inhabitants.
11 – 12 the house will become impossible to adequately clean, but thick dust and cobwebs wills seem to accumulate everywhere.
13 – 14 a murderous stranger will come to the house.
15 – 16 the family’s income will begin to fail.
17 – 18 threatening apparitions of all the houses former inhabitants will be seen.
19 – 20 the house will be suddenly overrun with vermin.
21 –22 a mischievous goblin will take up residence inside.
23 – 24 the plants in the kitchen garden will begin to die.
25 – 26 the crops of the estate’s tenants will begin to die.
27 – 28 murders of crows will be seen all over the estate.
29 – 30 a vampyre will be drawn to the estate.
31 – 32 inexplicable thumping and rasping sounds will be heard throughout the rooms.
33 – 34 water will begin to drip from ceilings, but an inspection of the roof will reveal no leaks.
35 – 36 a vile smell will spread throughout the rooms.
37 – 38 food stores will begin to spoil prematurely.
39 – 40 the water in the well (or other primary supply) will turn red.
41 – 42 all hunts will somehow be unsuccessful, no matter how much preparation goes into them.
43 – 44 a member of the household will apparently become possessed by the angry spirit of the house’s first master (or mistress).
45 – 46 the covers will be pulled off from anyone attempting to sleep in the house.
47 – 48 those in the house will constantly feel like they are being watched, or have an invisible presence next to them.
49 – 50 the stones in the family burial ground will be knocked over (or the coffins will be moved around in the family tomb).
51 – 52 the lord and lady of the house will be unable to produce children.
53 – 54 windows will be smashed with rocks with unseen throwers.
55 – 56 small objects (especially important ones) will constantly go missing.
57 – 58 small fires will start around the house.
59 – 60 bloodstains will appear on all the linens of the household.
61 – 62 the family’s carriages (and any mechanical devices in the house) will break down.
63 – 64 doors in the house will be alternately be stuck shut, or suddenly fly open.
65 – 66 slanderous stories about the family will begin to appear in scandal sheets and newspapers.
67 – 68 any guns fired on the estate will backfire.
69 – 70 all knives, forks, and scissors in the house will become dulled.
71 – 72 all the family’s clothing will be slashed.
73 – 74 cracks will begin to appear in all the mirrors, and get progressively worse.
75 – 76 all the wine will turn to vinegar.
77 – 78 an outbreak of lice will strike the household.
79 – 80 rocks will fall from the sky when family members use the gardens.
81 – 82 flocks of birds will begin flying into the closed windows.
83 – 84 wolves will be drawn to the estate.
85 – 86 bread will not rise, and no fermented beverages can be made.
87 – 88 no Preternatural Effects will work in the house, no matter how powerful the User.
89 – 90 the walls will start bleeding.
91 – 92 slime will appear on the sculptures in the house.
93 – 94 the tables and chairs of the house will be found moved around stacked in piles every morning.
95 – 96 any plumbing in the house, or on the estate, will burst.
97 – 98 all food served in the house will become tasteless.
99 – 100 fish or frogs will fall from the sky.

Choose (or roll) 1 to 4 times. Some house always express their displeasure the same way, while others can show their anger in multiple, different ways. All signs will suddenly stop as soon as the House’s desires are again satisfied. In the case of creatures drawn to the estate, they will suddenly decide to leave.

A Restless House has a Heart – a place or object where the building’s power is concentrated. If you consider Highdark Hall to be Restless, for example, its Heart would be the “Cave of the Ancient and Hungry One”.

d100 The Heart of the House is…
1 – 3 a natural grotto below the basement.
4 – 6 the enormous and grotesque fireplace in the grand entrance hall.
7 – 9 a foundation wall where the skeleton of a young girl is entombed.
10 – 12 the cesspit.
13 – 15 the altar of chapel.
16 – 18 the library created by the house’s first master.
19 – 21 an interior courtyard.
22 – 24 an ornate salon.
25 – 27 the ballroom.
28 – 30 a disused bedroom, in which nobody wants to sleep.
31 – 33 the boudoir of the house’s original mistress.
34 – 36 a cabinet of curiosities.
37 – 39 a dungeon / torture chamber, the site of innumerable atrocities in the past.
40 – 42 the wine cellar.
43 – 45 a secret room underneath the grand staircase.
46 – 48 an empty room in the attic.
49 – 51 the lumber room
52 – 54 the music room.
55 – 57 the house’s grand staircase.
58 – 60 the portrait of the house’s first master or mistress
61 – 63 the bust or statue of the house’s first master or mistress.
64 – 66 the gaming room
67 – 69 the state dining room.
70 – 72 a disused drawing room
73 – 75 the observatory
76 – 78 the skull of the house’s architect, which he insisted always be kept in the entrance hall.
79 – 81 a reliquary containing the actual heart of the house’s first mistress, stored in a secret niche.
82 – 84 the nursery
85 – 87 an ancient book in the library.
88 – 90 an ancient druid megalith, incorporated into the stone of the walls.
91 – 93 a cabinet house (or baby house) in the grand drawing room.
94 – 96 an ornate longcase clock.
97 – 100 a massive, centuries-old bed of ornately carved wood.

Once its Heart has been identified and found, the House can be be lain to rest. At least, for a time.

d20 The House can be lulled to sleep….
1 for a year, by spilling a pint of blood.
2 for a month, by pouring out a full bottle of costly liquor.
3 for a year, by two (or more) people making love in (or in front of) it.
4 for a week, with an offering of milk and bread.
5 for twenty years, by a suicide.
6 by leaving a horde of treasure, for as long the treasure remains.
7 for a month, by a person of low Perversity (6 or below) politely asking the house to be quiet.
8 for a month, by a issuing a bold challenge to the House, and winning a Charisma Contest. The House’s effective Charisma is 10, plus 1 for every 50 years it has stood.
9 for a year, with the blessing of a priest.
10 for a year, with the curse of a defrocked priest.
11 for a year, by the kiss of a virgin.
12 permanently, by smashing the Heart.
13 for a day, with an offering of fresh flowers.
14 by leaving a poem extolling the house, for as long as the poem remains in place.
15 for a month, by sprinkling holy water, or anointing with holy oil.
16 for a day, by engulfing the Heart in clouds of incense.
17 for as long as a flame burns in (or near) the Heart.
18 for as long as the Heart is covered in salt.
19 for twenty years, with a murder.
20 for a week, by a beautiful young woman (and/or handsome young man) performing a flawless dance.

The Heart of a Restless House will always re-form if destroyed, as long as the remainder of the house still stands. The sole exception is if smashing the Heart is the method by which the House is actually put asleep. If the House is demolished without first lulling it asleep, the builders of any new structure put on the site will feel an overwhelming urge to preserve, incorporate, or re-create the original Heart.

Valentine’s Day Sale – 25% Off Ghastly Affair PDFs


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Experience Love and Death in the time of Romance and Revolution, with the Ghastly Affair Valentine’s Day Sale. 25% Off the PDF versions of the Ghastly Affair Player’s Manual, and Ghastly Affair Presenter’s Manual!

Sale ends 2/15/18.


Random Names for British Country Houses


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Clandon House 1824 engraving

Roll d100, 3 times

After a long ride through the picturesque countryside, you have arrived at…

1 – 3




4 – 6




7 – 9




10 – 12




13 – 15




16 – 18




19 – 21




22 – 24




25 – 27




28 – 30




31 – 33




34 – 36




37 – 39




40 – 42




43 – 46




47 – 49




50 – 54




53 – 55




56 – 58




59 – 61




62 – 64




65 – 68




69 – 70

Saint George(‘s)



71 – 73

Saint Michael(‘s)



74 – 76




77 – 79




80 – 82



Peel (Northern England only)

83 – 85




86 – 88




89 – 91




92 – 94




95 – 97




98 – 100




Join the results of the first two rolls together in whatever way makes the most sense, and/or is the most melodious. For example, “Raven(‘s)” and “cross” can be formed into “Raven’s Cross”, “Ravenscross”, or “Ravencross”.

Ecclesiastical designations (such as Abbey, Manse, Priory, and Rectory) either indicate the former use of the building, or that such a structure once stood on the site. By the 18th century the term “Castle” was being applied to buildings that looked impressive, but had no military function whatsoever. “Lodge” and “Villa” can indicate that the house was once much smaller, but has been enlarged. A Peel would once have been a watchtower along the Scottish border. The original tower may be incorporated into the house, or have been demolished long ago.