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Fantastic Source for Gothic Plots... 
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Post Fantastic Source for Gothic Plots...
I am about to launch a MotRD play by post game, and I found myself drawing a huuuuuge blank as to what to do for adventures. There are, of course a few (a very few) ready-made adventures to be had in various issues of Dungeon or Dragon magazines, but none of them suit my upcoming campaign--at least, not yet.

And then...I had an epiphany. To quote Mr. Smee from Hook, Lightning struck my brain...

I am a huge (one might even say rabid) Doctor Who fan. That golden dinosaur of British science fiction, so recently resurrected with such verve and success. But strip off that sci-fi veneer, and the underpinnings of Doctor Who are very Gothic Horror indeed. Monsters? Check. Frequently claustrophobic, scary settings? Check. Heroes armed (albeit frequently by choice, and/or because, well, there's an awful lot of bullet proof nasties in the universe, it seems...) with only their brains and courage? Check. Scary-hide-behind-the-couch moments? Check...

As I got to thinking about it, I realized what a rich source there is for us Gothic Earth fans here. "The Talons of Weng Chiang", a classic Who serial from the 70s, is a brilliant piece of Victorian Gothic horror with only a very, very light veneer of sci-fi over it. (I'll get to summaries for those who have never seen Doctor Who/never seen that particular episode presently.) "Blink", from the third season (or series, if you're British) of the New Series is easily one of the scariest bits of film I've ever watched, hands down--and I ain't a girl who scares easily. (Except for Thief: The Dark Project. That game scares the bejeebies out of me. I love it.) "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances", from the first season of the New series is also friggin' scary, and "Midnight", from the fourth series of the same, is nearly as frightening as "Blink." Or "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead" ... (In fact, all of the above mentioned, with the exception of "Midnight" and "Talons of Weng Chiang" were written by the extremely brilliant Stephen Moffat, who has a remarkable gift for taking perfectly ordinary, innocent things and making them damn terrifying!) And then there is the well-written and extremely entertaining radio plays, which until the new series was launched were the mainstay of keeping Doctor Who alive...

But I'm not here to sell you on Doctor Who. (Well, okay, I am, but only 'cause it's one of the best shows EVER.) I'm here to share some of the great adventure ideas I've gotten from Who that will work beautifully in Gothic Earth.

(These are Gothic Earth-ized adventure hooks drawn from the original plots. Obviously, the sci fi elements have been removed.)

"The Talons of Weng Chiang" (4th Doctor, Tom Baker, Classic Who): Something nasty is stalking the low-brow theatrical district of London, and young women are disappearing. Are the sightings of something very like a monstrous rat and the discovery of a strangely chewed-upon corpse linked to the vanishings? And what does the enigmatic Chinese magician Weng Chiang have to do with all of this?

"Blink" (New Series, 3rd Season): People are disappearing from an old, abandoned house. An enigmatic message scrawled on the wall warns visitors to "Watch out for the angels." And there seem to be a number of large stone angels scattered about the overgrown estate--weeping angels, their faces covered by their stony hands. Don't turn around, don't look away, don't even blink...

"Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead"(New Series, 4th Season): No one seems to know just what happened at the huge old library all those years ago, when ten people died under extremely mysterious circumstances and the sole survivor driven completely insane. No one but the original investigators ever got a good look at the bodies, and they aren't talking. And the only thing the survivor ever says coherently is "The shadows...Stay out of the shadows...Run! For God's sake, run!" But then again, there's supposed to be something very, very valuable locked inside that library...

"Phantasmagoria" (Big Finish Audio Productions, Peter Davison, 5th Doctor): Mathemeticians, architects, and professional gamblers seem to be disappearing. There's talk of ghostly wails on the streets at night, and all the activity, from ghostly noises to disappearances, seems to be centered around a prestigious gaming hell. Just who is the mysterious scientist calling himself "Dr. Valentine" anyway? He seems to be the last fellow the missing men played cards with before they disappeared...

"Whispers of Terror": Something very strange is going on at a local university, where a small group of scientists is studying sound waves and other sound-related phenomena. One of the scientists committed suicide recently, and for no apparent reason. Now one of the research team has gone mad, and the students say that strange whispers stalk the lab and the halls...(My solution for this is that the "suicide" was in fact a murder, and the dead man's ghost has been trapped in sound waves and is now seeking vengeance by driving his murderers mad, along with anyone else who gets in his way...This is fairly close to the original plot, though the sound equipment was higher tech and it all took place on a different planet. :) )

"The Spectre of Lanyon Moor": A village on the lonely Cornish moors is being stalked by strange happenings. A partially eaten corpse has turned up, and local legends say that the ancient fogou (Celtic tunnels) is where a faerie prince lies imprisoned, seething with a thirst for vengeance against his brother, who betrayed him long ago. Are the recent bouts of deaths and madness related to this, or is there a more down-to-earth explanation to be found in the strange baronet of Penhallow Hall, who seems to be hauling in a lot of strange equipment for his mysterious 'experiments'....?


That's all for now, though there is certainly more to come as inspiration (and time to listen/watch/read) comes to me. :) And please, if anyone else has adaptations of their own, do share!!

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Thu Sep 11, 2008 1:04 am
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Incidentally, if anyone is interested in joining my play-by-post, I could use another player or two. Most of the players I've got thus far are novices to the setting. :)

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Thu Sep 11, 2008 1:06 am
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"The Stones of Venice" (Big Finish, Paul McGann, 8th Doctor): Along the twisting, mysterious streets of Venice is a huge, crumbling ducal palace, presided over by a reclusive duke. He is rarely seen by the public, but rumours and whispers say that he is a cursed man. Two hundred years ago, Duke Orsino wed Estella, a woman of stunning beauty and personality, and brought her to La Serenissima and his ancestral home. But Orsino was a product of his class, a decadent, self-involved nobleman, and in a night of drunken gambling he wagered his bride--and lost. Betrayed by the man she thought loved her, Estella dressed herself in her wedding gown and threw herself into the Grand Canal. But before she died, she laid a curse on Orsino--and all of Venice. The Duke would not die, and would not age. He would remain trapped unchanging, locked in his guilt, for two hundred years. And at the end of that time, Venice herself would crumble into the sea unless recompense was made for Orsino's betrayal.
Now it is the 1890s, nearly two hundred years to the day of Estella's death. The Duke grows increasingly desperate to end his curse, and save both himself and Venice from destruction. But he does not know how to break his dead wife's curse--and to complicate matters, there is a necromantic cult obsessed with Estella, and with bringing her back from the dead...

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Mon Sep 15, 2008 11:55 pm
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Hi Ronia,

if you're still looking for players, I'm actually interested in learning a bit more about your campaign. What is the time frame and place where it will take place?

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Sun Nov 30, 2008 6:19 am
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Post Re: Fantastic Source for Gothic Plots...
Oooh -- I hate to necro-bump, the OP may never even read this, but using Doctor Who for MotRD scenario ideas is inspired! Some of the original novels would make for great Victorian era horror stories...

White Darkness - set in Haiti during WWI, but you could easily move it back a few years to the 1890's. Voodoo, zombies, spies, and the briefest of brief cameos from Great Cthulhu himself! (Change the cameo to something Red Death related, obviously).

All Consuming Fire - in which Holmes and Watson team up with the 7th Doctor. Again, this one has a Cthulhu Mythos connection, but it could easily be changed to the Red Death.

Human Nature - either the book or the TV adaption. The Family of Blood stalking the countryside... hmm... so many ideas on how to "D&D-ize" the Family. Are they dopplegangers? Illithids in disguise? Cerebral vampires???

The City of the Dead - (not to be confused with the TV serial 'City of Death') - change the setting from the contemporary and you could easily have a follow-up or prequel to 'Dark Magic in New Orleans'. The Elementals, who are able to manifest themselves as humans, could be an interesting addition to Gothic Earth.


Some more TV stories:
The Curse of Fenric -Well, Fenric could be either be another ancient evil entity from another plane (like the Red Death) or could just be an alias for the Red Death. The WWII trappings would have to be dropped, but the idea of Haemovores coming out of the water to invade the shores of a peaceful village would make a good start to an adventure. What would the Haemovores be? Some type of aquatic vampire? Sea zombies (aka Drowned Ones)?

Ghost Light - OMG! This one is freaking TAILOR MADE to be adapted to a MotRD module! The setting is already a creepy Victorian mansion, the only thing you'd have to alter is the crashed spaceship angle (unless you want to introduce a bit of extraterrestrial into your game -- I just had a vision of a MotRD/Spelljammer crossover... and it was glorious). 'Light' could easily convert into some kind of advanced spectre, another 'contemporary' of the Red Death who has been dormant for hundreds upon hundreds of years. The treatise on Darwinism might be something those into heavy role-play could really sink their teeth into.

The Green Death - giant slugs in MotRD! Change the BOSS supercomputer to some kind of ancient dead and you've got a winner.

Horror of Fang Rock - isolation in an eerie lighthouse. Pick your creepy D&D monster of choice, really.

Image of the Fendahl - this episode was heavily influenced by Quatermass and the Pit. You could go all sorts of directions with the Fendahl.


Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:22 pm
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Post Re: Fantastic Source for Gothic Plots...
"Blink" or anything involving the Angels would be a blast as well. :) Doctor Who is just a fantastic source for horror!

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Fri Apr 06, 2012 6:07 am
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Post Re: Fantastic Source for Gothic Plots...
The Silence from the latest series would be a really creepy adversary on Gothic Earth too. The design of the creatures is apparently based on The Scream by Edvard Munch. I believe Munch produced his first version of the painting in 1893 -- perfect timing for a MotRD adventure! What if The Scream was actually based on something supernatural Munch thought he saw in real life? :twisted: The PC's are hired by the artist to hunt down the 'demons' haunting his dreams...


Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:31 am
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Post Re: Fantastic Source for Gothic Plots...
Heeeyyy, that's an excellent idea! I hadn't heard about the Silence being based on Munch's work, but it makes sense when I think about it. And if there's one Who monster that qualifies as more terrifying than the Angels, it's the Silence!

Dang, they'd make an excellent Ravenloft monster, period. I may have to work them into the Ravenloft campaign I'm running...Hmm...

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Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:25 pm
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Post Re: Fantastic Source for Gothic Plots...
You could stat up the Silence no problem. The tricky thing is incorporating their ability to make people forget they've seen them. You can do it for NPC's, but you can't tell a player to completely disregard the scary screaming monster that's just made them soil themselves because their character 'doesn't remember'. :P

(Unless of course, you cheat a bit. Have the PC's look down at their arms and see that they've written notch numbers all over them with a quill pen...)


Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:26 pm
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Post Re: Fantastic Source for Gothic Plots...
Well, generally speaking it would be difficult. However, I'm blessed with an utterly fantastic group of players (several of them fellow Whovians), who would enter into the idea with great enthusiasm. I once replaced half the party with doppelgangers and sprang the information on them last-minute (when the doppelgangers turned on the rest of the party) and they loved it. Especially as the 'real' characters, who were not dead but stripped to their underwear and tied up in an attic at a mansion during a masquerade ball, then got to effect their own rescue. Which they did, very cleverly and effectively. It's an awesome group, really. 8)

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Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:58 pm
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