Wednesday, January 30, 2013

1d20 Spicy Thieves, Rogues, And Poisoners Random Table For Your Old School Horror Campaign

File:Spicy Mystery Stories June 1936.jpg

1d20 Spicy Thieves, Rogues, And Poisoners Random Table 

  1. This male prostitute leads a double life as foreign agent selling secrets from within his bag of tricks. He also keeps several enchanted knives in the bag as well. 
  2. This actress has a hidden agenda and a dark secret in her past that forces her to sell information to the highest bidder 
  3. This information broker is a respectable jeweler by day and a serial killer by night. He knows many dark secrets he is willing to impart to the right bidder
  4. This man works as a janitor and knows the hidden tunnels that run throughout the city. He'll show you for a price. 
  5. This man is a map maker with a taste for forbidden flesh and a professional forger. He keeps a secret diary of his jobs and day to day activities. 
  6. This woman is a cat burger with a family secret involving the local mob. She's willing to trade favors 
  7. A local prostitute who works for both the police chief and a local bounty hunter but now he's in deep trouble 
  8. A second story man who works the docks and is a cultist looking to get out. 
  9. A watch maker who repairs gear for the local thieves guild and various adventurers. Cut rates on his work 
  10. A poisoner who poses as a food inspector who likes blondes and is looking for a new racket 
  11. A cabinet performer who works for a kidnapping racket and is selling secrets 
  12. A stripper whose brother works for the mob and needs a favor 
  13. Lady accountant who works for the city and the mob. She's selling numbers on both to the highest bidder. Looking for romance 
  14. Bail bondsman/lawyer who gets adventurers out of jams. He's an old perv with a cute daughter 
  15. A good for nothing former adventurer who runs a bar specializing in hot leads for get rich quick schemes. He's on the level but in deep trouble with the mob
  16. A kindly hobo who spins yearns about the locals. Actually a master thief looking for an apprentice. 
  17. A nun dealing second rate poisons from her habit and nunnery  Very slick and dangerous to cross. 
  18. Ring dealer and junk jewelry dealer whose actually a master alchemist for hire. 
  19. Kindly mature teacher whose actually an import/export smuggler dealing in jewels 
  20. A former mob boss who now runs a local bar and needs help with his daughter. A wild hellion whose actually a master assassin involved with the cult of Cthulhu

    File:Spicy Mystery Stories June 1935.jpg

Monday, January 28, 2013

DIY Grind House Torg And Oasis Of The Zombies For Your Old School Horror Campaign


 Back in high school I worked at a Friendlies resturant as a waiter right down the street from a mall. This game was making its way through the pages of Dragon magazine. My group played the hell out of this game. I came across this post on Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque about DIY Torg. You can read this marvelous post right over Here
So nothing about this post is going to be original at all. But the idea was so good that all weekend its been running through my mind.
For those of you not familiar with this classic here's a brief overview of Torg according to wiki:
"Torg is set in a near future setting, known officially as "the near now." At the games's starting point this world has been subjected for several months to a year, to a pan dimensional invasion by a series of "High Lords" who have changed the natural laws of large swaths of Earth to reflect those of their home dimensions. The players assume the role of "Storm Knights", people from Earth and the various invading realms, who possess limited reality altering abilities, and who oppose the plans of the High Lords."

The idea here is that the world is invaded by various realms each controlled by a Highlord. Here's what I came up with over this weekend for this thought exercise. First this is going to be a grind house version of Torg. In other words "B" movie versions of the standard rpg trope worlds.
Here's the list: 
  1. Europe - Conan Labryth Lord pulp setting with touches of Arduin 
  2. Greenland and Iceland  - The Melnibone realms and the Young Kingdoms 
  3. The UK - The Great Britain of the future of Dorian Hawkmoon
  4. USSR - Runequest with touches of Crypts and Things 
  5. Canada - The Super soldier reality of Underground 
  6. United States -  A. East Coast - Realms of Crawling Chaos - This is the pulp realm of New England. B. The West Coast - post apocalyptic world of Mutant Future/Metamorphisis Alpha/Gamma World 1st and 2nd edition  With touches of The Kult rpg 
  7. Mexico and South America - The Empires of the Petal Throne 
  8. China and India - Carcosa reality 
  9. Austrilia - The Talaslinta realms 
  10. Japan and Indonesia - Cyberpunk 2020 
  11. Africa- The Naked Lunch Realms - Over The Edge  
  12. Anarticia - The "At The Mountains of Madness" Realms 
File:Weird Tales March 1945.jpg

This is only a thought exercise but I even came up with a first adventure with a horror slant. There's a craptastic horror film known as Oasis of Zombies. When I used to run Nexus The Infinite City. This was one of my convention main stays. 
Take a look at the trailer but there is plenty of T&A in this flick 

This grind house flick involves the treasure hunt for 9 million dollars in gold. The zombies are the remains of  Nazi commandos who were massacred. They are still guarding the gold. Take any group of adventurers and away you go.
The place is under a curse. Everything is still as fresh as it was when the soldiers were killed. They are decaying ever so slowly.

There are a few exceptions to the usual zombie rules: They only animate at sunset. The zombies have been feeding for centuries and they hide the bodies that they "consume". Tales of the gold continue to draw adventurers. Those who are bitten and die will turn into zombies and must be burned.
Here are some of the reasons to use this movie for such an adventure. 
  1. The movie's gold may have strange properties associated with the tragedy that surrounds it. Who knows what types of black mages and necromancers could be drawn to it. 
  2. The movie's plot is perfect for "cross parties" of adventurers 
  3. Movie backstory and characters might make excellent NPCs for other adventures 
  4. There are enough zombies to take on any size party 
  5. For a game such as Kult the oasis might be a place folded into the illusion and may only appear at certain times. The gold might easily draw any number of wannabe black magicians. 
  6. Could there even be gold? Its never shown in the movie at all. Is the place really cursed or is there another nazis recovered artifact animating the dead?
    Oasis of the Zombies makes an excellent low level adventure to get this sort of a Torg style campaign world off  the ground and a great jump off point for the horrors yet to come. I may actually run this sort of world in the near future. Other movies and animes that come to mind for this  include Demon City,Vampire Hunter D, and many of the house of Hammer science fiction films  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Carnival of Souls For Your Old School Horror Campaign

Carnival of Souls is a cult classic movie that can be used to enhance an old school horror campaign. Carnival is a perfect mid campaign event/adventure that can have PCs wondering and horrified. Here's a trailer of this cult classic released in 1962.

Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) is riding in a car with two other young women when some men challenge them to a drag race. As they speed across a bridge, the women's car plunges over the side into the river. The police spend three hours dragging the murky, fast-running water without success. Then Mary miraculously surfaces. She cannot remember how she survived.
Mary then drives to Utah, where she has been hired as a church organist. Odd things happen along the way. At one point, she can get nothing on her car radio but strange organ music. She passes a large, abandoned pavilion sitting all by itself on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. It seems to beckon to her in the twilight. Shortly thereafter, while speeding along a deserted stretch of road, a ghoulish, pasty-faced figure (The Man, played by director Herk Harvey) replaces her reflection in the passenger window and stares at her. When The Man suddenly appears in front of her, she swerves off the road. At a gas station, the attendant tells her the pavilion was first a bathhouse, then a dance hall, and finally a carnival before shutting down

In town, Mary rents a room from Mrs. Thomas; John Linden, the only other lodger, wants to become better acquainted with the blonde newcomer, but she is not interested. That night, she becomes upset when she sees The Man downstairs in the large house and retreats to her room. Mrs. Thomas, who kindly brings her some food, says she did not pass anyone.
Soon, Mary begins experiencing terrifying interludes when she becomes invisible and inaudible to the rest of the world, as if she simply is not there. When The Man appears briefly in front of her in a park, she flees, right into the arms of Dr. Samuels. Samuels, though he acknowledges he is not a psychiatrist, tries to help her.
Her new employer, the minister (Art Ellison), is a bit put off when she declines his suggestion of a reception to meet the congregation. When she practices for the first time, she finds herself shifting from a hymn to eerie music. In a trance, she sees The Man and others of his ilk dancing. The minister, hearing the strange music, denounces it as "profane" and insists upon her resignation.
Terrified of being alone, Mary agrees to go out on a date with Linden. When they return home, he talks his way into her room, but when she sees The Man in the mirror, she becomes upset and tries to tell him what has been happening to her. He leaves, believing she is losing her mind.
After talking with Samuels again, Mary believes she has to go to the pavilion. There, however, she finds no answers.
Other ghouls join The Man. Mary tries frantically to escape, at one point boarding a bus to leave town, only to find that all the passengers are ghouls. Then she wakes up, showing that she dreamed this sequence at least. In the end, she is drawn back to the pavilion, where she finds her tormentors dancing. A pale version of herself is paired with The Man. When she runs away, they chase her out onto the beach. She collapses, and they close in.
The minister, the doctor and the police are baffled. Her bare footprints in the sand (the only ones) end abruptly, but there is no trace of her.
In the final scene, the car is finally located and pulled from the river. Mary's body is in the front seat.

Lost By Ways Of The Carnival of Souls 

The Carnival of Souls represents a brush with the other world. The ghouls and the man are a perfect plot device to throw at PCs. They're implacable and utterly indestructible because they're already dead. The "Man" and his ghouls might well appear  to a group of PCs who have had a brush with death and not escaped. 
For a game of Call of Cthulhu the man and his ghouls could be a nice change of pace. The PCs have a brush with death or a client whose not escaped the clutches of the supernatural. "The Man" comes to claim them and the PCs become ensnared in the events. 
For a game of Kult the Carnival and its patrons may be mechanisms of the Illusion that are still working and still in play. The man may be an agent of the Death angels or something even more sinister. 
For a post apocalyptic game such as Mutant Future, the Carnival may be a sad reminder of the forces of the supernatural still functioning in the wake of the apocalypse for all eternity. For a retroclone game the Carnival may be an echo of the fight between Order and Chaos.  Death being the final balance between the two forces.

For a game of post future horror like Dark Conspiracy, the Carnival may be a protodimension of death and the "Man" may be its Dark Lord. The Carnival makes a perfect location for the recovery of an artifact that has fallen into the hands of one of its victims. 

The  "Man" avitar of death,relentlessness, and entropy 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Unleashing The Trollenburg Terror - Actual Play

Sunday I was roped into running a game over at my friend Larry's place because his regular game of AD&D Greyhawk had been ripped apart by the flu. This meant that I had to come up with something fast.
There are movies that I've always thought of as rpg adventures and wanted to run as one. The Crawling Eye aka The Trollenburg Terror makes a fantastic adventure if used in the right way. 
First a bit of background on Crawling Eye aka the Trollenburg Terror according to Wiki:
The Trollenberg Terror is the title of both a 1956 "Saturday Serial" ITV UK television programme and a better-known 1958 black and white science fiction film. The latter is also known as The Crawling EyeCreature from Another WorldThe Creeping Eye, and The Flying Eye. Both versions are directed by Quentin Lawrence and featureLaurence Payne as journalist Philip Truscott, who investigates unusual accidents occurring at a Swiss resort. The film also stars Forrest Tucker as United Nationstroubleshooter Alan Brooks. Peter Key wrote the story for the serial, and Jimmy Sangsterscripted the film version based on Keys' story. It was the final film to be produced by Southall Studios, one of the earliest pioneer film studios in the UK.

The plot with major spoilers ahead 
One of three student climbers is mysteriously killed on a mountain, his head ripped off. Two sisters are on a train to Geneva. Anne faints as they pass a mountain and on waking, she now knows all about the town and that there is something wrong with the mountain. She decides they should get off at the next stop, Trollenberg. She was part of a mind reading act in London.
Alan, who was on the train with them, goes to an observatory a little way up the mountain, where Professor Crevett asks for his help. He is told that despite many accidents, dead bodies are never found on the mountain and a radioactive mist cloud is always on its south side. Similar incidents took place in the Andes three years earlier before suddenly vanishing without a trace. It is thought the monsters come from a very cold planet and make their own atmosphere, a rarefied mist.
Anne is giving a mind-reading exhibition at the hotel when she sees the two men in a hut on the mountain. Dewhurst is asleep when the other, under a mental compulsion, walks out. She faints again. Alan phones the hut and finds out Brett has in fact left. The cloud has moved down to where the hut is and the other man hears a noise outside. Something horrible and unseen kills him. The cloud moves back up the mountain.
An expedition from town goes to look for the two men. Anne back in town is uneasy and says the men should stay away from the hut. The hut is locked on the inside and everything is frozen. A body is found under the bed with its head torn off. Anne decides to investigate herself by cable car as a spotter plane arrives to search the mountain area. A man is spotted on the mountain but when the first rescuer gets there, all there is a rucksack. When he looks inside, he sees the man’s severed head. He is then attacked by a madman (Brett) with a mountain axe who kills the second rescuer.
Anne feels a compulsion to climb the mountain but they stop her going past the observatory. Later Brett arrives back at the hotel, behaving weirdly, then tries to kill Anne but is knocked down. He hits his head but there is no blood from a wound. This was similar to incidents in the Andes where a man killed an old woman who had powers similar to Anne's, being able to receive thoughts. They arrived ten minutes too late to find him dead, as in dead for 24 hours.
Brett kills a man and escapes from the room he was locked in and goes looking for Anne with a knife but is shot and killed by Alan. News is that the cloud is now coming down the mountain toward the village. They decide to retreat to the observatory by cable car; the observatory is heavily fortified to withstand avalanches and so should provide a measure of protection from the monsters.
A monster arrives in the mist at the hotel. As people begin piling into a cable car, a mother suddenly realizes her daughter is not there, and Alan goes to rescue the child in the hotel. He does so and narrowly escapes the monster. They make the cable car and head up the mountain but the delay has given the mist a chance to reach the cable car platform; the motor and cables start freezing and the car starts jerking but it manages to get them to the observatory and four clouds now start heading towards them. They have one hour.
Hans, who tried to get out by road, turns up and they let him in but he has the symptoms of being a puppet of the monsters and goes looking for Anne. They manage to stop him from strangling her, and kill him. The monsters climb towards the observatory, where the men are making Molotov cocktails to combat the monsters, who prefer intense cold. An aerial fire bomb raid has been ordered on the observatory which it should survive, having three-foot-thick concrete walls.
Philip hits one with a Molotov cocktail, which sets it burning, but he is caught by a monster on the roof. A Molotov cocktail from Alan persuades the burning monster to let Philip go. Later, Philip does the same for Alan when a monster manages to break through the thick wall to try and get at Anne. The plane arrives to begin its bombing raid and the monsters burn.

The classic film 

Unleashing The Trollenburg Terror
There are several key factors that bother me about the movie and have for years. United Nations Inspector Allen Brooks has more power then many world leaders. There's also the fact that he knows more then what's going on. Professor Crevett has dealt with Allen before and this has all the classic ear marks of an operation gone horribly wrong.
 Allen Brooks doesn't look like your classic hero instead there's something vaguely sinsister about him. "A smoking man" quality that one finds in the old classic  X files villain. 
There are actually two stories within the Trolleburg Terror.From Wiki: "Similar incidents took place in the Andes three years earlier before suddenly vanishing without a trace. It is thought the monsters come from a very cold planet and make their own atmosphere, a rarefied mist." 
Professor Crevett knows something is going on. He's got unlimited funding and an observatory that seems more aka to a cosmic duck blind then it does a complex to study cosmic radiation. Many years later we would see a similar phenomena come into being with Project Arrow Head. The "aliens" had come not from another planet but another dimension.
The players basically came into Trollenburg years later and on the trail of a rogue Allen Brooks. Accidents were starting on the mountain once again and Professor Crevett's son Hymric  was now in charge of the observatory. The events of Trollenburg had been hushed up and for the good of humanity.
There were 6 players
3 Trouble shooters of the United Nations "Project Smoke"
And  3 Psychics from the shop.
The whole crew were lightly armed with hunting rifles, a pistol or two, and several shot guns.

After a quick investigation and a trip up to the facility via cable car. The whole place seemed in working order except a strange cloud on one of the nearby peaks.
The PCs ordered a fly by and it was an ordinary cloud.
It wasn't until the party uncovered the fact that Trollenberg is part of a series of special ley lines that run throughout the mountains. The party climbed the summit of a nearby peak and found a neo lithic pylon and a series of human bones along with some very nasty looking ice crystals.  

That's when they encountered their first
 Crawling Eyes

No. Enc.: 1d8
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')

Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 13

Attacks: 1
Damage: Special, Tentacle lash 1d4 points of freezing damage 

Save: L9
Morale: 9
Mutations: Psionic possession, Gas generation,  Animate Dead (special)
Hoard Class: III, IV, IX, XXI
The crawling eyes have been sneaking into our dimensions for eons. These horrors from beyond the Outer Darkness move to invade our realities through rends in the cosmic fabric. They are not the Great Old Ones but a foul independent race of monsters. Many psychics can tune into the alien thoughts and foul plans of these creatures. The door of these transmissions is two way and the foul beasts will know of the psychics. They will bend every effort to eliminate the threat to their plans.
These foul diseases upon the multi-verse are related to both the Brain Lashers of Mutant Future and the Mind lords.
They will decapitate anyone that they come across and feed upon their blood in many instances.
These foul beings will drain certain beings of their blood and coat the flesh in a bio organic ice crystal matrix. This enables the monsters to psionically animate the victim as an intelligent zombie. Hand eye coordination will be reduced and the nerve damage to the victim will be in evidence. Any skill check will reveal the possession of the victim by the Eye. Flame attacks on the victim will cause degeneration and complete destruction of the zombie.
These zombies are often used to eliminate any psychics or psionically active individuals.

The party was killed to a man by a cult of "crawling eye zombies"! They vow revenge next Monday with another United Nations Team being sent in! 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Beast From Haunted Cave For your Old School Horror Campaign

This is the sort of late night cable fest movie that I would have watched when I was living in Boston. The movie has the finger prints of an early Roger Corman effort. 

The movie makes an excellent horror/gangster mash up adventure set in the modern era. . Filmed in South Dakota at the same time as Ski Troop Attack, it tells the story of bank robbers fleeing in the snow who run afoul of a giant spider that feeds on humans.
The movie actually comes off with a decent plot according to Wiki:

A group of criminals, led by the ruthless Alexander Ward (Frank Wolff), hatch a plan to steal gold bars from a vault in Deadwood, South Dakota. Ward sends one of his henchmen, Marty (Richard Sinatra), to set an explosive in a nearby gold mine, the detonation of which will act as a diversion for their heist. Although Marty, accompanied by a local barmaid (LinnĂ© Ahlstrand), succeeds in setting the explosive, he encounters a beast (Chris Robinson) in the mine. The beast kills the barmaid, but Marty escapes with his life.
The next morning, the explosive goes off as planned and Marty and his gang succeed in stealing gold bars from the vault. They set off to a remote cabin, led by a local guide named Gil Jackson (Michael Forest), where they hope to be picked up by a plane. Gil is initially unaware of their plans, but he becomes suspicious when he hears reports of the robbery on the radio and discovers that they're carrying handguns. They reach the cabin without incident, but once there, a violent snowstorm delays the plane's arrival. Marty's "secretary," Gypsy (Sheila Noonan), is taken by the young Gil and tells him that Marty plans to kill him once the plane arrives. Gil and Gypsy take off back to town together.
Marty, who still carries unpleasant memories of his encounter with the beast, has all the while been concerned about being followed. He encounters the beast again during the trip to the cabin, but his companions think he's losing his mind. Eventually, however, they become convinced of the beast's reality when they see it attack the other of Marty's henchmen, Byron (Wally Campo). Despite their fears of further attacks, the gang is set on tracking down Gil and Gypsy before they reach town, so they head to a nearby cave. Another snowstorm forces Gil and Gypsy to take shelter in the cave as well, which turns out to be the lair of the beast. In the final struggle, the beast kills the remaining gang members, but Marty shoots it with a flare gun before he dies. Gil and Gypsy are left to watch as the monster is burned to death.

Using The Beast From Haunted Cave For Your Old School Horror

The movie has a lot to offer a DM for any number of game systems. For a game such as Dark Conspiracy the plot can be stream lined and the creature is another  horror awakened by the coming of the aliens. There are a few monsters already in the game that can be adapted as the beast and perhaps the cave system is actually a small proto dimension.
The plot and movie elements can easily be transported back to the 1920s or 30s for a complete night's adventure. The follow up to the murders of all these people as well as the loot will certainly attract bounty hunters, treasure seekers, and who knows what else. The beast itself could be a child of Atlach- Nacha simply gathering its sacrifices and feeding until the stars are right again. 
For a game like cult the beast simply a creature of Gaia who broken through the illusion and has its own agenda. The beast could gather a cult about itself and furthering its own plans in the area. 
 For any of the OSR games such as Mutant Future the creature presents a unique hazard to the plans of adventurers and a dangerous post apocalyptic encounter. Who knows how long the beast has been active? The cave system could be a ruined temple or megadungeon that has been operating for thousands of years. Adventurers could destroy the beast only to have their modern descendants dealing with the same horror again.
The Beast From The Haunted Cave

Spidery Horror From Beyond 
No Enc: 1d3 (1d3) 
Alignment : Chaotic 
Movement: 120'(40') 
Armor Class: 5 
Hit Dice : 6 
Attacks: Claw or Bite 
Damage: 1d4 Claw or Bite 1d8, poison
Save : L2 
Morale : 8 
Hoard: VI 
Regenerative Capability
 Illusion Generation Telepathic (Weak)

This horror has lived within its extensive cave system for thousands if not millions of years. This spidery like humanoid horror operates quite successfully from within its labyrinth maze like  cave complex. Many have been murdered by its claws. The monster lures its victims with illusions of past victims to its den. There the monster webs its victims and lays its eggs within the flesh. The victims are slowly drained of blood and finally feasted upon by the young.

The Megadungeon of the Beast
Tales are told by the ancients of extensive caverns filled with ancient treasures from beyond the time of the Apocalypse. The beast spreads these tales among the natives of the hills to lure the desperate  the adventurous and the stupid to its clutches! There the beast feeds on the flesh of any who venture into its claws. The caverns seem to extend for miles in many directions.  The place has not be entirely mapped or cataloged. Many black mages come to collect one of these horrors as their own or worship it. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Appendix N Horror Trailers From the 30s & 50s for Your Old School Horror Campaigns

Here's a quick selection of movie trailers to get the old juices flowing for a horror game or two. I hope you enjoy and see you back at the crypt soon. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Ghoul 1933 For Your Old School Horror Campaign

 I have a fondness for ghouls. Not the ad&d ones but the ones that appeared in HP Lovecraft's stories. Ever since I was a little kid there have always been certain movies that evoke a timeless spirit of horror and depravity. This is one of those but its also one that you can exploit for use as a gate way adventure.
 The plot according to Wiki : 
Gaumont British borrowed just the vaguest outline from the 1928 source novel by Frank King (and subsequent play by King and Leonard J. Hines). King's novel is sub-par Edgar Wallace in which a master criminal popularly referred to as 'The Ghoul' has been responsible for a London crime wave. Betty inherits an estate on the Yorkshire moorsfrom a mysterious benefactor, Edward Morlant, a dabbler in mysticism who years before had been her mother's paramour. But the will requires Betty to take up residence in the old house, where Morlant's corpse soon appears, walking and talking. Morlant tells her that he is an immortal adept and demands the return of his secret diary. The usual suspects and interlopers converge on the house, and upon Morlant's next appearance his resurrected self is killed anew, unquestionably stabbed through the heart. Morlant is soon perambulating again, as people begin turning up dead. All supernatural trappings are dispelled as 'The Ghoul' is penultimately unmasked as Edward Morlant's twin brother, James, a criminal mastermind whose fictive guises included not only his brother, but a bogus police sergeant and his brother's solicitor, Broughton. In a final act of madness, James torches the mansion.
The film screenplay uses the merest skeleton of the story and characters and blends it with the Egyptian mysticism of The Mummy while capitalizing on the "thunderstorm mystery" mood of The Old Dark House (1932), Karloff's two previous Universal Pictures. Eccentric Egyptologist Professor Morlant believes that if he is buried with a jewel called "The Eternal Light", in a faux Egyptian tomb he has constructed at his English country estate, Anubis will manifest before him, accept his offering of the diamond, and grant him  eternal life. Morlant appears to die, but the jewel is snatched by his servant before the interment. No sooner do the heirs arrive for the reading of the will, than Morlant rises from his tomb, finds his bauble gone, and attempts to punish the thieves. The jewel is punted from servant to lawyer to niece to Egyptian fanatic to spinster to mock vicar and eventually back to the revenant Morlant, who makes his blood sacrifice to Anubis before properly expiring. Morlant, it is learned, had merely suffered a cataleptic seizure, and had been buried alive. The mock vicar (Ralph Richardson) is revealed to be the chief villain, and having obtained the Eternal Light sets fire to Morlant's tomb. Betty and her lover manage to escape.
The Trailer 
The Classic Movie Itself
Using The Ghoul As Campaign Element Or Setting In Your Old School Horror Campaign

There are several different elements that can be lifted for a number of classic old school horror games here. The Ghoul is classic "This dark house in the country side" fare. This makes it perfect for using as a game set up. 
Heart and soul of the movie is Boris Karloff's Prof. Morlant and the jewel The Eternal Light. Morlant is the perfect Call of Cthulhu villain or foil. He'd be a undead servant of Anubis in such an adventure and not merely having suffered from a seizure.  Then there's the matter of the Jewel of Eternal Light. The Jewel would be an artifact in the AD&D setting dedicated to the god Anubis. Eccentric Egyptologist Professor Morlant believes that if he is buried with a jewel called "The Eternal Light", in a faux Egyptian tomb he has constructed at his English country estate, Anubis will manifest before him, accept his offering of the diamond, and grant him eternal life. The jewel gets passed around from hand to hand and its strange powers are never really revealed.  So its the sky is the limit as far as the Jewel is really concerned. Then there is the question of where Morlant actually came across such forbidden knowledge. Could there be a cult that the jewel originally belonged to? Are they still out there with other such treasures waiting for the day when their god walks the Earth once again?
Could this movie be used as a plot device in a game of modern horror such as Kult or Dark Conspiracy? It certainly could. The faux tomb on Morlant's property might be restored in the modern era as part of a folly by a local "gnome" or the blood descendant of the professor. This could set in motion events that allow the Eternal Light to once again summon Anubis to walk the Earth and seek to strike a bargain with another supplicant.
For a game like Kult this version of Anubis is a forgotten god whose cult died out but his bauble ties him to the Earth. He moves through the illusion only a flicker of what he once was. A dangerous flicker but one that could burst into a flame if the machinations of a cult fan the flame.
  Finally there's the odd ball cast of drawing room characters that just cry out to be made into NPCs for any number of current or future games. The Ghoul is one of those rare films that is just an undiscovered classic waiting for a new generation to rediscover it.
The Blessed of Anubis 
The blessed of Anubis are those who have received the immortality promised by the Jewel of Eternal light. They are still intelligent, and function in day to day society but they have all of the usual limitations of an undead state. These beasts have a 30% magic resistance and a dire connection to the negative material plane. They also have a psychopathic hunger for murder most foul. The Blessed are created from the dark shadow of Anubis and often serve as the heads of certain blood thirsty cults dedicated to this dark aspect of the Egyptian god. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Blood Of Dracula's Castle For Your Old School Horror Campaigns

This is one of those old cult horror movies that I have such fondness for. I watched this as part of a double bill back in Boston on the outskirts of China town along with so many other films from the 60s and beyond. This is a cult film with some real potential if used correctly. 

This is the type of film that obtains cult status because of its infamous association with Jayne Mansfield and her death. The film has a strange almost drawing room quality about it. 

Count Dracula (Alexander D'Arcy) and his vampire wife (Paula Raymond), hiding behind the pseudonyms of Count and Countess Townsend, lure girls to their castle in the Arizona desert to be drained of blood by their butler George (John Carradine), who then mixes real bloody marys for the couple. Then the real owners of the castle show up, along with Johnny, who is a serial killer or a werewolf depending on which version you watch. The owners refuse to sell, so Dracula wants to force them to sell. In a final confrontation, the vampires are forced to stand in the sunlight and dissolve.
The role of Countess Townsend was originally intended for Jayne Mansfield, but she died in a car accident before shooting began. A sequel, to be called Dracula's Coffin, was planned but never materialized.
Ostensibly located in Arizona, the film was actually shot at Shea's Castle, near Lancaster, California. Other portions of the film were shot in the Coachella Valley, California

Using Blood Of Dracula's Castle For Your Old School Horror Role Playing Game 

The film doesn't  really settle around the "victims" at all. Instead we're really focused on  Count and Countess Townsend. Who may or may not really be Dracula and a bride at all. We're not sure until the end.
 The Townsends are  the most urban couple of vampires a party is likely to meet. They're pretty open about their vampirism and pragmatic about the young ladies that they are going to drain. The blood of the youth keeps them young. That's the secret. 

 Count and Countess Townsend are very knowledgable and a really nice couple of psychopathic vampires. I've used them as great NPC patrons for a couple of games and as fodder for a low level encounter. 
The Johnny character is an escaped psychopatic killer and might be a werewolf. He's got some serious issues with the moon and its effects on him. Those effects aren't shown butt the implication is that Johnny has escaped from the asylum multiple times. And acts as assassin and strong arm to the Count and his bride. During one recent adventure I had the PCs break Johnny out of an Arizonia facility. Only later they learned of his true nature. Johnny may or may not have survived being shot in the end of the movie if the werewolf option is taken. Johnny is a very urbane were wolf or psychopathic killer. Sort of out going and friendly in a creepy stalker kinda way. 
The countess is actually one of the more interesting of the Townsends in my option. She's very aggresive in her blood letting of the young ladies in the basement. She looks more old Hollywood then old world. Perhaps a silent film star whose taken the count up on an offer of immortality. She's got a blank slate for her history. 
The butler is a very cool customer and a discipline of Luna. I'd go so far as to say that he's a fifth level anti cleric or cleric of a chaotic aspect of the goddess Luna. Some of his history is revealed in a conversation with Johnny. He serves the Townsends and drains the life blood of the young ladies in the basement. He seems to view his service as a part of his calling. The butler has a weird Nightbreed vibe going on with him.  He might actually be a lost member of the "Tribes Of The Moon" The fact is that all of them might be. I've used him a few times as an immortal servant that has served with a number of shady quesi masters over the centuries. He could well be a font of information. Did he actually die at the end of the movie? 
Mongo is the grounds keeper and seems more zombie then hunch back. He's twisted in the head and the body. This guy has seen some action over the centuries and might be able to take quite a bit of punishment. I gave him the regeneration abilities of a troll. He's nothing but a dead man that can't be stopped. 
Who are the Townsends? They could be a pair of Dracula soul clones that have escaped the notice of monster hunters for centuries. The family might be a clan of Nightbreed. They are in fact a very nasty little home grown cult of Luna. They're pleasant enough as long as a party doesn't let down their guard. 
I've used them as a mobile group of wandering patrons for PCs that keep the characters guessing. The move around from area to area over the centuries. They make a perfect low level encounter for a group of monster hunters. 
What about the victims who inherit the castle? One does not have a brush with the supernatural and not come away untouched? Could their be an infection or problem that crops up in the future of these folks? 

Blood of Dracula's Castle left more questions in my mind then answers. How did such a diverse group of monsters function as a family unit and remain undetected. What happened to Johnny later on when the moon came up. Were the Townsends really destroyed? 

All in all Blood of Dracula makes a lousy movie but a great one shot encounter or a group of patrons for a group of PCs
The Mega Dungeons of Dracula's Castle In "Arizona" For Your Old School Horror Game 

For me the real star of the movie was Shea Castle! This is a very lovely location right in the middle of the California countryside.  The location boasts a private runway, incredible trails and all of the best of the best for a group of monsters or PCs. 
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When I first saw Blood of Dracula I thought it might have been the Italian country side or a matt painting. The place has an extensive history and is perfect for a game like Dark Conspiracy.  The monsters in the wilds of Arizonia or California are perfect for DC. A wild and woolly encounter just waiting to happen. 

Shea has some incredible trails that surround it making it a perfect place for PCs to be hunted through. 

According to Wiki here's a brief history of the place.
Shea’s Castle, also known as Sky Castle and Castle Ranch, is a castle built in 1924 by the developer Richard Peter Shea. Shea, a New Yorker, moved to the dry climate of Southern California in hopes of improving the health of his wife, Ellen. Shea made his fortune developing Hancock Park in Los Angeles. He spent two years building the castle on about 1,500 acres (6 km²) of land in the Antelope Valley, just west of Lancaster and just south of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. The cost of building the castle (at the time) was $175,000.
The Stock Market Crash of 1929 bankrupted Shea. The bank took over the castle and Shea died penniless.
A variety of owners and renters have occupied the castle since. Roy Rogers trained his horse Trigger there. A non-profit flying group added a runway, dam and lake there. The millionaire playboy Tommy Stewart Leepurchased the house in 1948.
The castle has seen its share of development plans as well, but to this day it remains pretty much unchanged. There are petroglyphs on the property, as well as natural springs and an FAA approved landing strip. It has been a location for 1967's Blood of Dracula's Castleand TV shows such as Air WolfBat MastersonBuffy the Vampire SlayerHarry OThe Rat Patrol, and Starsky & Hutch.
It is currently a private residence.

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For me Shea was one of the real stars of the movie. Could there be more rooms under the castle that the Townsends have added over the centuries since they moved in? Quite possibly. The place has gotten quite the work out in both Kult as the local cult of Luna's headquarters and as the residence for a California group of monster hunters. The place as also served as the location for a low level one shot adventure for a group of post apocalyptic adventurers years back 
Here are a couple of links for this great location