The King is Dead

Friday, September 14, 2012

Regency/Gothic: Thornshire

Panorama of the Peak District from Wikimedia Commons
 So I canceled the King Arthur vs. Dracula game because it was just too off-track and randomly generated a new setting.

What?  "Randomly generated?"  Yes, pretty much.

I used the lovely Regency Name Generator and Regency Place Name Generator at the unfortunately-no-longer-updated Stuff and Nonsense to generate a cast of characters, the brilliant You Inherited an Estate, But There's a Problem... and Dark Secret tables (and a little bit more from the What Type of Haunting is Afoot? table to fill in some of the estate results) from Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque to create some complications, and some bits and pieces of the Fantasy Character Generator Toolkit from PEG to flesh out some details.  Mix in some Jane Austen, Bronte sisters, and a crappy hand-drawn map and -- voila! -- a setting  that forces me to be creative but keeps me from wandering off into Knights of Pendragon territory.

Anyway...

The Land

Thornshire is located somewhere in the Peak District of central northern Britain.  It is defined by Scour Moor to the northwest (notable landmark: the towering crag of Scourmore Head), Pennybury Heath to the northeast (notable landmark: the cromlechs of Brig Cairn), Scardale Forest to the southwest, and Bolingforth Wood to the southeast.  The small Polborn River zig-zags through the center of the Thornshire valley, broadening into surprisingly treacherous shallows in Polborn Bottom.  The village of Stockburn Glebe stands in the shadows of the moors, the town of Thornton straddles the best bridge across the Polborn in the middle of the vale, Evanhollow Village sits north of Bolingforth Wood, and remote Scardale Green sits surrounded by the forest.

The People

Thornshire is dominated by a small group of aristocratic families:  

Wymond Standeford (Benjamin Whitrow as Mr. Bennet in 1995's "Pride and Prejudice")
The Standefords of Plumstone Hall
Robin's character is Rosalind Standeford of the Standefords of Plumstone Hall.  Their family home sits in the shadow of Brig Cairn.  Her father, Wymond Standeford, is secretly a notable occultist -- a kind-of local Sorcerer Supreme -- charged with protecting the area from supernatural threats.  (He probably belongs to a secret cabal started by Doctor Dee or something like that; I'll flesh that out more when they go to London for the Season.)  He has trained both of his children to succeed him; Rosalind has a higher aptitude for magic, while her charming younger brother Pierce is more hands-on.
Pierce Standeford (Dan Stevens as Clerval, "Frankenstein" (2004))

The Landons of Presbottle Abbey (Stockburn Glebe)

Benedick Landon is the last of the Landons.  His mysterious secret is the first Robin has resolved.  Shortly after receiving the estate from the Tudors during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Henry Landon was approached by a mysterious "Master Nicholas" who offered him the ability for Henry and his descendants to watch over the state and guarantee the continuance of the bloodline unto the seventh generation.  This, of course, involved turning Henry and all his descendants into "Worms of the Earth"/"The Shadow Over Innsmouth"-style goblin things after they died.  As Benedick was the seventh generation, the mad goblins began swarming out into the open to harass his staff and try to persuade him to join them in the darkness of the family mausoleum.  The goblins have been sealed by iron and prayer into their tunnels beneath Pennybury Heath, but it is impossible to say how long this will last.  Benedick Landon (the seventh generation himself) has fled to London (in January, well ahead of the fashionable time) to seek a wife and break from his family curse.

The random results I rolled for the Landons were:
Status: Gentry (untitled aristocrat)

Estate: Haunted (army of the fallen)
Secret: Arcane Meddler (called up something they can’t put down)
Head of Household: Scion
Father: Julius (killed by raiders -- interpreted to mean the goblins slew him when he tried to protect the child Benedick from their influence)
Mother:  Iola (died of plague)
*Scion: Benedick Landon (treated fairly by parents, Bad Luck, +1 Vigor, Elf Blood +2d Shooting)
Siblings: none 

(As you can see, I interpreted that "army of the fallen" result rather loosely; when I saw the "Arcane Meddler" and "Elf Blood" results, I immediately thought of Bran Mak Morn for some reason.)  

Matthias Lovell (Ralph Fiennes as Heathcliff, "Wuthering Heights" (1992))
The Lovells of Briarcliffe (near Scourmore Head)

Robin/Rosalind has also gotten some ways into discovering the secrets of the Lovells.  It turns out that handsome, dark, and moody (but good-hearted) Matthias Lovell is secretly the lovechild of Marko, a headstrong and dangerous gypsy.  The Lovells have been increasingly excluded from Thornshire society in recent years because of the obviousness of Matthias' illegitimate parentage.  While he was secretly abusive toward the boy in his youth, Valerian Lovell always publicly supported "his" child.  Now he has begun muttering about leaving the inheritance to someone else... 
Status: Gentry
Estate: Unfashionable
Secret: Changeling [I did literal fairy changelings in the previous campaign, so here I decided to be more metaphorical.] 
Head of Household: Father
Father: Valerian (alive and in good health, Bigot)
Mother: Faith (alive and in good health, Brawny, Arcane Resistance)
Scion: Matthias Lovell (locked in cupboard as a child, Phobia/Minor: Claustrophobia, Alertness, +1 Vigor, Brawny)
You probably shouldn't read the rest of this, Robin.

 The rest of the families haven't gotten much screen-time yet, so they only exist as notes.


The Brightmores of Brinry Manor (near Polborn Bottom)
Status: Knight
Estate: Contaminated (something causes all there to sicken and die)
Secret: Gambling Debt
Head of Household: Scion
Father: Peter (died in work-related accident)
Mother: Isabel Brightmore (alive and in good health, Luck - +1 Benny, +1 vigor)
*Scion:  William Brightmore (feared and avoided by parent, Brawny, +1 Strength, +1 Smarts)
Siblings: Dominick (brother, encouraged by parent, +1 Smarts, Luck, soldier)

The Griffiths of Calewell (near Scardale Forest)
Status: Gentry
Estate: Hazardous (located near dangerous woods, bad weather, etc.)
Secret: Blasphemer
Head of Household: Scion
Father: Evan (died of plague)
Mother: Maud Griffith (alive and in good health, Bad Luck, +1 Vigor)
*Scion: Barnaby Griffith (treated fairly by parents, Ambidextrous, +2 Vigor, )
Siblings: Melissa (sister, encouraged by parents, +1 Strength, Bigot), Michael (brother, treated fairly, +1 Strength, clergy), Stephen (brother, idolized, Berserk, Quick, soldier)

The Colbrans of Follyfad Manor (near Evanhollow)
Status: Gentry
Estate: Haunted (Phantom Coach)
Secret: Debauched
Head of Household: Father
* Father: Nicholas (alive and in good health, Ambidextrous, Berserk)
Mother: Katherina (died of plague)
Scion: Usher Colbran (treated fairly, Quick, Berserk, Ambidextrous)
Siblings: Lysandra (sister, treated fairly, Arcane Resistance, Ambidextrous)

The Fishers of Lampstorth Manse (near Thornton)
Status: Baronet
Estate: Meager Resources
Secret: Fratricide
Head of Household: Father
* Father: Carson (alive and in good health, Brawny, +1 Spirit)
Mother: Prudence (alive and in good health, Fast Healer, Orc blood –Hard Case  +1 vs Fatigue)
Scion: Cyril Fisher (treated fairly, Bigot, +1 Spirit)
Siblings: Edmund (brother, treated fairly, +1 Vigor, Bad Luck, sailor)), Constance (sister, disgrace to parents, +1 Smarts, +1 Spirit, a bluestocking)


I've definitely got ideas on how to handle the other families.  William Brightmore is begging to be the setting's George Wickham.  Stephen Griffith's Berserk Edge suggests he's haunted by post-traumatic stress disorder from Waterloo.  There's a lengthy entry for the Black Coachman in the Savage Worlds Horror Companion that I'm eager to use, but I haven't decided if the Colbrans are the victims or the perpetrators of the haunting.  I don't know if the fratricide is in the Fishers' past or future, but I do know their meager resources strain their standing as the highest-ranked family in Thornshire (I'll probably wind up ignoring Prudence's Orc Blood).  And I know that all the Bigots mean that maintaining social standing in the neighborhood is pretty tricky.

What I need to come up with now is some random generators for social and seasonal events -- and weird things that do not necessarily involve the main families.  I'm looking forward to finding out what Thornshire has to offer.   

2 comments:

  1. Pardon me but that is not Richard Rowlands. Richard Rowlands played Clerval senior, Henry's father. Henry Clerval (Listed as Henry in the credits of 2004 Frankenstein) was Dan Stevens. You might know him best as The Beast in the current Beauty and The Beast. If you look up Rihard Rowlands you'll realize he was far too old to have been Henry, he played Henry's father in one scene.

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    1. Thanks! I hadn't started following Downton Abbey back when I wrote this and didn't know who Dan Stevens was yet. I'll fix it.

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