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Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying 
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Ulthal
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Post Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Highdark Hall is a fictional eighteenth-century estate house suitable to be the primary location for an entire Saga of Gothic roleplaying. It features five floors and over 100 rooms, with many possibly intriguing locations to stimulate your creativity.

The free maps are intended to be further developed by the Presenter (or Game Master). Its for you to decide if Highdark Hall is a cursed hive of supernatural evil, or actually just a leaky old house with somewhat eccentric inhabitants.

Although primarily intended for use with the Ghastly Affair role-playing game, there's no reason why Highdark Hall couldn't be adapted to your favorite game system as well. Those who play Victorian-era, Steampunk, or other Horror games might be able to use Highdark Hall, simply by advancing the assumed time-frame. You could even use the maps for an uninhabited structure being explored by paranormal investigators!

There's plenty to explore and uncover, whether the Player Characters join the house as servants, are travelers stranded there by a fearsome storm, or are members of High Society attending a Masquerade Ball or Salon. Players might even portray members of the family that inhabits the House – there are parts that are mysteries even to those who live within its walls.

The FREE maps of Highdark Hall are available at:
https://engineoforacles.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/highdark-hall-a-setting-for-gothic-roleplaying/

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Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:15 pm
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Mogrl

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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Link to the write up of what is inside of Highdark Hall? Do you also happen to have a map compilation available to Download? Or is that part of the write up PDF?

Edit: and the maps look great!

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Mon Mar 30, 2015 11:14 pm
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Nice!

It always annoyed me when maps and floor plans weren't realistic (to a point). However, yours are great and believable!

Now to dig out my Poe and get inspiration ;)

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Tue Mar 31, 2015 1:11 am
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Lore Drake
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Great maps thanks! Good for use for pulp games too.


Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:07 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Treebore wrote:
Link to the write up of what is inside of Highdark Hall? Do you also happen to have a map compilation available to Download? Or is that part of the write up PDF?

Edit: and the maps look great!


My intention is to make Highdark Hall as modular as possible. More information about the house is coming shortly, but all of it will be optional. You can fill in the details of the house and its occupants to fit your personal vision, or use my suggestions.

When I've released everything for Highdark Hall it'll be compiled and released as a single printable PDF. That will include the maps, suggested inhabitants, a suggested history, and suggestions regarding the mysteries of the house.

In the future I also plan on a series of articles explaining how to make your own, more-or-less historically accurate Great House/Chateau/Estate - which rooms to include, where to locate rooms, how to keep the whole things looking at least semi-reasonable architecturally, what servants would be present, and how the house would function on a day-to-day level. A house and estate the size of Highdark Hall would easily have over 30 servants, for example, and effectively be a small village unto itself.

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Player's Manual Now Available on DriveThruRPG and Amazon
Reader discretion is advised.


Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:52 pm
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
clavis123 wrote:
Treebore wrote:
Link to the write up of what is inside of Highdark Hall? Do you also happen to have a map compilation available to Download? Or is that part of the write up PDF?

Edit: and the maps look great!


My intention is to make Highdark Hall as modular as possible. More information about the house is coming shortly, but all of it will be optional. You can fill in the details of the house and its occupants to fit your personal vision, or use my suggestions.

When I've released everything for Highdark Hall it'll be compiled and released as a single printable PDF. That will include the maps, suggested inhabitants, a suggested history, and suggestions regarding the mysteries of the house.

In the future I also plan on a series of articles explaining how to make your own, more-or-less historically accurate Great House/Chateau/Estate - which rooms to include, where to locate rooms, how to keep the whole things looking at least semi-reasonable architecturally, what servants would be present, and how the house would function on a day-to-day level. A house and estate the size of Highdark Hall would easily have over 30 servants, for example, and effectively be a small village unto itself.


Awesome. Thanks for sharing your good work!


Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:57 pm
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Excellent work! Highdark Hall is very cool!

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Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:09 pm
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
clavis123 wrote:

My intention is to make Highdark Hall as modular as possible. More information about the house is coming shortly, but all of it will be optional. You can fill in the details of the house and its occupants to fit your personal vision, or use my suggestions.

When I've released everything for Highdark Hall it'll be compiled and released as a single printable PDF. That will include the maps, suggested inhabitants, a suggested history, and suggestions regarding the mysteries of the house.

In the future I also plan on a series of articles explaining how to make your own, more-or-less historically accurate Great House/Chateau/Estate - which rooms to include, where to locate rooms, how to keep the whole things looking at least semi-reasonable architecturally, what servants would be present, and how the house would function on a day-to-day level. A house and estate the size of Highdark Hall would easily have over 30 servants, for example, and effectively be a small village unto itself.



Cool :!: That is right up my alley!

Hmmmm, I may have some old architecture/archeological PDFs for various manors etc. (I was bored back when I was doing my BASS work and used the college's digital library to search all kinds of stuff) Let me look. If you'd like some of them I'd be glad to send them your way.

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Tue Mar 31, 2015 10:01 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Lurker wrote:
Hmmmm, I may have some old architecture/archeological PDFs for various manors etc. (I was bored back when I was doing my BASS work and used the college's digital library to search all kinds of stuff) Let me look. If you'd like some of them I'd be glad to send them your way.


Thanks! My local library is actually pretty well-stocked with relevant research materials, but I'll let you know if I get stumped!

Once again, thank you to everyone for your encouragement.

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Reader discretion is advised.


Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:50 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Part 2 of Highdark Hall is now available on my blog, The Engine of Oracles. Pay a visit to the house, and learn the mysterious history of the Altumber family.

Highdark Hall: The House and its History
https://engineoforacles.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/highdark-hall-the-house-and-its-history/

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Player's Manual Now Available on DriveThruRPG and Amazon
Reader discretion is advised.


Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:51 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Part 3 of the Highdark Hall series is now available on my blog, The Engine of Oracles. Meet the members of the Altumber Family, the Lord's Mistress and the Governess. All are presented in an adaptable, relatively system-neutral format.

Highdark Hall: The Family & Retainers
https://engineoforacles.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/highdark-hall-the-family-retainers/

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Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:32 pm
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
More excellent stuff, many thanks clavis!

Question:

Is there some artwork showing a frontal, side of back view of Highdark Hall? If not, perhaps that is something that may be forthcoming.

Rhu. :)

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Wed Apr 08, 2015 10:49 pm
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Yet again, great stuff!

Mmmmm .... I just noticed my post after your 2nd installment was deleted. It must have gotten lost with the internet problem a few days ago. It was another 'good stuff' post ...

That said, love the background of the house, the family, and their individual write ups. I had to pause a bit with the thought of the mistress being in the house, but then remembered mistresses were all but expected for the gentry, and it was common for wives to have lovers on the side too - I was shocked to read about Churchill's family, talk about a web of scandals !!!!

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Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:56 am
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Rhuvein wrote:
More excellent stuff, many thanks clavis!

Question:

Is there some artwork showing a frontal, side of back view of Highdark Hall? If not, perhaps that is something that may be forthcoming.

Rhu. :)


I'm working on a color architectural elevation of the front facade right now. It'll take a few days to get finished!

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Reader discretion is advised.


Thu Apr 09, 2015 8:29 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Lurker wrote:
That said, love the background of the house, the family, and their individual write ups. I had to pause a bit with the thought of the mistress being in the house, but then remembered mistresses were all but expected for the gentry, and it was common for wives to have lovers on the side too - I was shocked to read about Churchill's family, talk about a web of scandals !!!!


Eighteenth Century marriage practices are real eye openers for modern audiences. Upper class marriage was purely a property matter, so as long as the children looked like the husband, everyone basically expected to have other lovers. Upper class couples basically lived separate lives. Wealthy women who had reason to believe their next child wouldn't resemble their husband would go on 9-10 month long "visits to the family" or "tours", during they would have the child, and send them to an orphanage. For an upper-class woman to take a lover before she was married was scandalous - to take one after was expected, so long as she was discreet. Upper class men, of course, could basically do anything they wanted.

A famous example of an eighteenth-century ménage à trois involved Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire , Lady Elizabeth Foster, and William Cavendish, the Duke of Devonshire. Georgiana was the great, great, great, great aunt of Princess Diana. She was also the aunt of Lord Byron's obsessed lover Lady Caroline Lamb, who was apparently fond of cross-dressing, and infamously slashed her arms with a broken wine glass at a party in order to get back at Byron for insulting her. And of course, Caroline was married for the entire time of the affair!

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Reader discretion is advised.


Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:09 pm
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
clavis123 wrote:
Rhuvein wrote:
More excellent stuff, many thanks clavis!

Question:

Is there some artwork showing a frontal, side of back view of Highdark Hall? If not, perhaps that is something that may be forthcoming.

Rhu. :)


I'm working on a color architectural elevation of the front facade right now. It'll take a few days to get finished!


Super awesome!

This should drive sales for sure!!!

Many thanks.

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Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:25 am
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Today's addition to the Highdark Hall series is an architectural-style elevation representing the front facade of the place. Use it to help describe the scene as characters approach the building, or even as inspiration for creating your own fictional haunted house!

Highdark Hall – Elevation of the Front Facade
https://engineoforacles.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/highdark-hall-elevation-of-the-front-facade/

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Reader discretion is advised.


Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:13 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Part 5 of the Highdark Hall series features the seventeen Female Servants that keep the house functioning. They're not just background; each is a full character with their own fears and desires. They're presented in the same adaptable format at the descriptions of the Altumber Family.

Coming soon: the Butler and Male Servants.

Highdark Hall: the Female Servants
https://engineoforacles.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/highdark-hall-the-female-servants/

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Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:04 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Part 6 of Highdark Hall completes the listing of the houses' inhabitants by presenting the Male Servants. Like the descriptions of the Female Servants and Altumber Family, they're defined in a relatively system-neutral format for maximum usability.

Highdark Hall is staffed, and ready for visitors.
What will they find within?
Love?
Death?
Something more seductive and terrible than either?

Highdark Hall: The Male Servants
https://engineoforacles.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/highdark-hall-the-male-servants/

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Tue May 05, 2015 10:26 pm
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
I am in awe of the detail you have put into this so far. I like some of the little hooks you add in as well. Things I could use for other encounters etc.

Well Done! :mrgreen:


Tue May 05, 2015 11:26 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Daniel wrote:
I am in awe of the detail you have put into this so far. I like some of the little hooks you add in as well. Things I could use for other encounters etc.

Well Done! :mrgreen:


Thanks! It was important to me to make the servants just as interesting as the family. Great houses like Highdark Hall were actually inhabited primarily by the servants – sometimes as many as 6 for every family member. When it wasn't hosting, the family would spend much of its time traveling (usually separately), The servants (excluding the valets and lady's maids) rarely left the house, however. It wouldn't be unusual for the servants to know the place better than any of the family members.

An interesting story could involve an upstairs/downstairs plot. Half the PCs would be visiting gentry, and the other half of the PCs would be their valets and lady's maids (who would travel with their employers and sleep with the servants of the hosting house). While the gentlemen and ladies dance (and scheme) in the Lunar Ballroom, it would be up to the servants to stop a vengeful ghost from claiming another victim.

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Wed May 06, 2015 6:22 pm
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Daniel wrote:
I am in awe of the detail you have put into this so far. I like some of the little hooks you add in as well. Things I could use for other encounters etc.

Well Done! :mrgreen:


+1 to that


clavis123 wrote:


....

An interesting story could involve an upstairs/downstairs plot. Half the PCs would be visiting gentry, and the other half of the PCs would be their valets and lady's maids (who would travel with their employers and sleep with the servants of the hosting house). While the gentlemen and ladies dance (and scheme) in the Lunar Ballroom, it would be up to the servants to stop a vengeful ghost from claiming another victim.


Now that I like ... especially if the upstairs scheming is going crossways of what the downstairs party members are trying to do to save the up stairs prats ...

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Thu May 07, 2015 11:43 am
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Part 7 of the Highdark Hall series is a collection of rumors, innuendos, and anecdotes likely to be heard by visitors and servants. Each is a hook to begin another twisted story of the infamous house and the strange Altumber family. There are over 30 suggestions of murder, lust, betrayal, and the supernatural waiting to be investigated!

Highdark Hall: Whispers and Gossip
https://engineoforacles.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/highdark-hall-whispers-and-gossip/

Note that some of the rumors concern mature themes not suitable for all audiences

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Tue May 19, 2015 7:50 pm
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Ok some of those are just down right worrisome. ;)

I happen to like the rats in the basement talking to each other. I also liked the masked woman, dressed in black velvet rumor.


Tue May 19, 2015 9:07 pm
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Fantastic! Well done!

This one tickled my funny bone and I'm still LMAO:

"Apparently, a recent house guest of some importance asked the kitchen maid Siobhan to ride his back like he was a horse, hit him with a riding crop, and curse at him in Irish. Siobhan doesn’t even know how to speak Irish, so she just invented some words that sounded nasty. He never knew the difference. Also, there was a carrot involved."

:lol:

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Wed May 20, 2015 1:08 am
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Nice!

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Wed May 20, 2015 1:48 am
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Thanks again everyone for the compliments and encouragement!

Except for poor Georgina, the Altumbers are generally awful people who do awful things. Their house is an awful place where awful events occur.

Coming soon will be several suggested scenarios for characters unwise enough to investigate the rumors they hear. In some cases, the truth is even worse than the accusations!

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Player's Manual Now Available on DriveThruRPG and Amazon
Reader discretion is advised.


Wed May 20, 2015 10:36 pm
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
clavis123 wrote:
Thanks again everyone for the compliments and encouragement!

Except for poor Georgina, the Altumbers are generally awful people who do awful things. Their house is an awful place where awful events occur.

Coming soon will be several suggested scenarios for characters unwise enough to investigate the rumors they hear. In some cases, the truth is even worse than the accusations!


Worse than "Also a carrot was involved" :shock:

Wait was the rat leader involved with the carrot too !!!!! :lol:


Soooooo you are saying I need to ready my best paladin for a trip to clean house ;)

In seriousness though, good representation of how odd/off/twisted upper class families could be in that era. Again, going back to the family of Churchill - a man I hugely admire - it is shocking to me even with my history geekness what his and other families were like. Yes there were some good families, however, so many of them were corrupt and twisted. Even in Victoria era, the class was just a veneer of virtue over some odd to dark things.

That just reminded me of "Turning of the Screw" and "Yellow Wallpaper" . Not a perfect fit for your era, but some good food for thought ...

Crud, I had a bad day and was going to do some good light reading to help lift my mood, but now am drawn to something darker ... God help the cadets tomorrow if my mind goes down the path it is headed :twisted:

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Thu May 21, 2015 2:13 am
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
Lurker wrote:
In seriousness though, good representation of how odd/off/twisted upper class families could be in that era. Again, going back to the family of Churchill - a man I hugely admire - it is shocking to me even with my history geekness what his and other families were like. Yes there were some good families, however, so many of them were corrupt and twisted. Even in Victoria era, the class was just a veneer of virtue over some odd to dark things.


The thing about the 18th century is that you don't have to twist history to make it into a setting for horror! If anything, I tend to tone down the historical verisimilitude of my games somewhat to avoid offending players. The casual sexism, antisemitism, and racism of the 18th century (although the 19th century was even more racist) would quickly become unbearable, if I portrayed NPCs as saying the things that actually would have come out of people's mouths. Likewise, ordinary people tolerated a level of filth in their lives that would be considered nauseating to us. The horrors perpetrated during the French Revolution, and during the Napoleonic Wars, are nearly beyond imagining. See Goya's “The Disasters of War” series for a taste of the atrocities committed during the French occupation of Spain. At the same time, these societies possessed craftspeople with skills far in excess of our own, capable of producing objects of supreme beauty without modern machinery or power tools. The juxtaposition can be head-spinning.

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Thu May 21, 2015 8:56 pm
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Post Re: Highdark Hall: A Free Setting for Gothic Roleplaying
clavis123 wrote:
The thing about the 18th century is that you don't have to twist history to make it into a setting for horror! If anything, I tend to tone down the historical verisimilitude of my games somewhat to avoid offending players. The casual sexism, antisemitism, and racism of the 18th century (although the 19th century was even more racist) would quickly become unbearable, if I portrayed NPCs as saying the things that actually would have come out of people's mouths. Likewise, ordinary people tolerated a level of filth in their lives that would be considered nauseating to us. The horrors perpetrated during the French Revolution, and during the Napoleonic Wars, are nearly beyond imagining. See Goya's “The Disasters of War” series for a taste of the atrocities committed during the French occupation of Spain. At the same time, these societies possessed craftspeople with skills far in excess of our own, capable of producing objects of supreme beauty without modern machinery or power tools. The juxtaposition can be head-spinning.


I'd go as far as to say that much of modern horror got its origins in real stories and common urban myths from the Victorian era. The twisted insane asylum. The serial killer who sends mysterious messages to the police. Mysterious deaths as a result of disturbing "cursed" things. And so on...

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Mon Jun 22, 2015 3:10 am
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