Here we have a modest “secret supernatural” campaign setting all wrapped up in a single modest estate…
On an alternate earth – a realm where magic is strong enough to be a daily part of life – the early European colonization of North America was interrupted by an outbreak of unimaginable horrors.
One sizeable estate was held by the Merrow family – a cadet branch of the powerful Merovingian family of Europe and a notable bloodline of sorcerers. As the horrors approached, the Merrows prepared to defend their home, tenants, friends, and neighbors – and did so for weeks before, with the grounds of his house packed with refugees, Thomas Merrow died casting a spell that teleported the entire estate to that alternate earth’s “Scottish Highlands” – an astounding feat. Supposedly the spell would recoil, and return the estate to North America, when it was finally safe to return. Unsurprisingly, that never happened. There were too many horrors on the loose, and the local technology – limited to the Victorian era and to mid-level magic – simply could not drive them back, although constant vigilance managed to keep Europe relatively safe.
When someone accidently bridged the gap between the worlds, unleashing an assortment of supernatural horrors and powers on an unprepared (and almost purely technological earth), they accidently sent along the Merrow family home as well. The estate abruptly materialized on earth-proper just outside of Boston – bearing with it the energies of it’s home dimension. Fortunately, Arselin Merrow – thanks to liberal use of hypnotic sorcery – managed to clear up the “strange discrepancies” in the records.
The estate is, somewhat ironically, a nexus of Victorian Magical Horror reality, and has infused much of Boston with both magic and supernatural horrors. Fortunately, the house is protected by an assortment of powerful spells – although the grounds have far weaker protections. The most dangerous areas are the underground, the estate was built on an Indian burial mound, whose tunnels have been used as everything from crypts to wine cellars. They were sealed off eventually, and have been virtually forgotten – although things are now escaping from the tunnles into unsuspecting Boston. Partial maps from the period, as well as the spells used to pass the seals, are in the family archives. Sir Thomas Merrow was buried there, he has occasionally appeared to provide warnings, give advice or assistance, or act as a cryptic, mysterious, plot element. There are also some “lost” rooms hidden by old spells, for various reasons.
Conforming to fantasy conventions and the nature of a mage’s mansion and its grounds, there is no floor plan, although rooms are described for scenes “set” in them. Arselin, as the current master of the house, should always know where to go; if everyone is in the drawing room when a scream is heard, Arselin may leap to his feet, abruptly exclaiming “The lakeside pavilion !” – and will be quite right. Most rooms do belong to particular floors however, as listed below:
First Floor: Reception Hall, Grand Ballroom, Lower Gallery, Grand Staircase (up), Music Room, Kitchens, Indoor Garden, Terrace, Formal Dining Room, Reception Hall, Grand Salon, Drawing Room, Hall of Fountains, Hall of Mosaics, Main Foyer, Cloak Room, Morning Room, Parlor.
Second Floor: Armory, Family Chapel, Upper Gallery, Grand Staircase (down), Schoolroom, Gunroom, Studies, Main Library, Smoking Room, Main Hall, Solar, Sickroom, Conservatory, Gymnasium, Veranda, Trophy Room, Music Room, Collection Rooms.
Cellars: Wine Cellar, Root Cellar, Wood Cellar, Carpenters Workshop, Toolroom, Billiards Room, Printshop, Assorted Workshops, Stillroom and Botany Lab, Chaos Well, Old Archives, Plate Room, Chamber of Spirits, Hall of Crystal
Towers: Observatory, Foucault Pendulum, Aviary, Sanctum, Main Vault (beneath the foundations), Studio, Maxim Guns, Dirigible Mast, Meditation Room, Dovecote.
Floors 3+: Nursery, Servants Rooms, Assorted Attics
Everywhere: Labs (some long lost), the Chamber of Extrospection (this can appear anywhere), Bedrooms, Sitting Rooms, Storerooms, Huge Fireplaces, Huge Bathrooms, Balconies, and Secret Passages.
The mansion has been extensively renovated over the years. It was originally a sprawling sample of early American architecture, but it’s current incarnation is a classical, Victorian, English country manor and estate. Like all such, it is loaded with fireplaces, stairs, bellpulls, oil paintings, rugs, massive furniture, framed maps, and heaps of historical, or simply luxurious, bric-a-brac. By modern standards everything seems both overdone and overcrowded, an enclosed feeling reinforced by the gas lights and general dimness. Actually, there’s lots of room, but the dark wainscoting and mazelike arrangement tend to obscure the fact. The mansion does have basic electrical wiring, but it’s best not to rely on it too much – one reason why all the interior doors have glass panels to let light into the interior. The estate is, of course, walled, something no mages estate would be without.
Some of the more common items found scattered about include; suits of armor, swords, decanters, paintings, chess sets, trophies (rugs, heads, and so on), spears, coat racks, oil lamps, crystal chandeliers, old books, grandfather clocks, telescopes, framed drawings and/or photographs, seachests, nautical maps, “kinetoscopes”, elephants-foot umbrella stands, walk-in closets, large wardrobes, mirrors, decorated ceilings, wall and floor mosaics, mirrors, humidors, porcelain figures, massive carved doors, assorted musical instruments, small book cases, roll-top desks, display cabinets (with assorted collections), archaic (or more “modern”) weaponry, and odd souvenirs of centuries of magic.
Specific notes are given on rooms which are notably unusual, other rooms can be described as suits the GM. Beyond a few specific areas, the underground tunnels and caverns are not described, save to note that there are several independent regions; the cellars and constructed crypts, the old Indian tunnels, and the deep caverns. The cellars are generally stone and timber, and are fairly safe. The Indian tunnels were dug thru earth, and are full of restless spirits and occasional monsters. The deep caverns are relatively recent, and mostly seem to burrow through bedrock. Their exact origin is unknown and unexplained.
To go with this network of underground passages the mansion has a number of secret passages, although many have been either opened up or sealed off during one or another renovation. Arselin explored many of the passages while he was young, and most of the others are on record, but that was a long time ago. He is unlikely to remember any given passage without either time or a stimulus of some kind. There are a variety of secret rooms and hallways in the network, most of them almost undisturbed. There is at least on laboratory that can only be reached through the passages since the mansion was last renovated, which is just as well, as it was a rather frankensteinish lab to begin with. In general, the secret passages go anywhere that’s useful for the plot, routes to inconvenient locations can be blocked by any number of things even if they were open last week. The passages do include an “escape tunnel” of sorts, leading to the stairs down to the underground docks. The main passage comes up concealed in a hillside at some distance from the house, near the pond. Passing through the escape route requires a set of special keying spells, as does going thru many of the passages – especially those that go down.
The mansion is currently located a bit up the coast from Boston, a fairly convenient position that’s handy for the shops, airport, general hospital, and a selection of other things that adventurers are often looking for. It has a somewhat forbidding aura due to the number of warding spells around it, with the outer wall this tends to discourage casual visitors, but not overtly so.
As a classic English estate, the manor is an almost self-sufficient community, with farmers, cottages, and an assortment of outbuildings and miscellaneous people who work in the area. While the pattern is a bit more feudal then Victorian, this is a direct consequence of the generally unpleasant supernatural “ecology” the structure has escaped from. The area supports some twenty-five families, and will doubtless continue to do so – although things may become a bit annoying if some alien invasion or realm overruns the surrounding area. Besides the usual assortment of sheds, barns, cottages, and so on, it has some more unusual areas, as noted below. As a massive dimensional hardpoint, the mansion carries it’s own reality – a Victorian horror-dimension with midrange magic – with it. That reality is found in it’s pure form within the manor, dominates the estate proper is a dominant zone, and can still be tapped into for several miles around the estate.
The Boathouse is on the edge of the estates small lake and stream. It contains nothing larger then rowboats and canoes as nothing much larger can navigate the stream. It is sometimes used by those wanting to putter around on the lake, but is otherwise fairly quiet. Thanks to the water it is heavily populated with frogs and moss. The small second floor was originally used as storage, it was converted to an apartment/study by David Merrow about 15 years ago so he could look out over the water while he wrote. Presently its full of Michael Summers (a guest of Arselin’s and a character who was too amusing to refuse; a genetically engineered otter trained for espionage purposes) otter furniture and his multi-million dollar satellite link and “junior achievement global electronic espionage kit”. The gear was mostly “donated” by unsuspecting laboratories and cutting-edge intelligence operations, and is substantially ahead of the common state-of-the-art. As no one else knows much about his gear, and Michael is missing right now, it’s currently going unused. Thanks to Michaels own reality-tinkering, the second floor – but very little more – supports such high-technology shenanigans, if only barely.
The Hedge Maze includes a fair number of tiny nooks, glades, trees, grottos, statues, and fountians. Outside of it’s habit of rearranging itself when no one is looking, it seems to be relatively normal. One grotto does hold a small cave, but it’s only 25 feet deep. It has a nice sandy floor, a small spring, and a couple of chairs as befits a fairly popular picnic spot. The maze has two “centers”, a classic Grecian court and a tiny oriental pavilion overlooking a small pond and a mossy garden.
The Stables are fairly elaborate if a bit unmaintained since Aunt Elinora took to her bed. The small complex includes a smithy, tack room, hayloft, paddock, and so on. The stablemaster is sulking about the lack of fox hunting in the area, but the smith has found a new hobby – tinkering with automobiles. He can usually be found either here or in the carriage house. Like most such minicomplexes on the estate the stables include a set of apartments for the stablemaster, the smith, and up to four grooms, although there are rarely that many actually staying there, unless it’s foaling time.
The Chapel has been in use for the past 240 years, and so has been imbued with a formidable spiritual energy. Clerical powers are amplified within it somewhat, and even amateurs occasionally get some results – which makes it a popular place to hide in a magical dimension with far too many horrors about. The chapel includes a small reliquary, vestry, belltower, and an attached cottage for the priest- at present the Deacon Aloysius Uwell, a secret follower of the Anselm Heresy.
The Folly is a classical “roman ruin”, set on top of a small hill. It is in the form of a small “temple” and includes a replica, underground, Mithric chapel with a hidden stairway / trapdoor / entrance somewhere inside the surface chambers. Reputedly, the “chapel” connects to the underground passages underlying the estate. While the entrance has been sealed and lost for generations, it might provide an unexpected way down. According to one story, when the door was sealed, a dark mage and his followers were trapped inside, converting the rooms to a crypt. While this is probably an exaggeration it is quite possible that the area was actually used by some secret society at one point or another, after all, why waste a perfectly good, isolated, secret chamber?
The Underground Docks are from after the estates teleportation to “Scotland”, and originally connected with the sea. They were used for a little genteel smuggling around 150 years ago, during a period of exceptionally oppressive government policies. Since then the docks, and their associated storerooms, have been almost forgotten. If they were included in the estates “return” trip, they probably still connect to the sea – although the new outlet is likely to be underwater. The stairs were constructed magically, but the underground cavern and small river were natural features, as was the link with the ocean.
The Springhouse also served as the icehouse before the pantry was charmed to remain cool. Since running water is now available throughout the estate, it’s basically ignored today. Like any icehouse, it has enormously thick and virtually soundproof stone walls, no windows, a thick, heavy door, and is partially underground. It’s a very private place. Arselin has been thinking about letting the weird scientists use it as a lab.
The Amerindian Longhouse is a remnant from America, it was built by a small group of Indians who were helping defend the estate against what they saw as an invasion of unnatural horrors. There are still a few people on the estate who’s ancestry includes them, they tend the place in an attempt to preserve part of their culture. It currently has a live-in maintenance man, one Jacob R. Ghostfire, a relatively minor student of shamanic lore and magic. Thanks to him the longhouse is part museum and part medicine lodge.
The Tenant Cottages are unusually modern for Victorian structures, a consequence of the Merrows regular renovations (and the “frozen” technology typical of most fantastical realms). As “typical” English cottages they usually have a large, multipurpose, main room with a semi-separate kitchen, a master bedroom and a small second floor or “loft”, sometimes divided into smaller rooms for children or relatives. The cottages have modest cellars, usually reached by a trapdoor and ladder or from the outside, that serve as root cellars and general storage areas. The most recent renovations included adding addition of brick or flagstone floors, piping in gas for cooking and lighting, inside plumbing, and running water (cold, although copper heating tanks set into the fireplaces provide some hot water). This general rebuilding also required renewing the cottages assorted reinforcing spells, making them considerably tougher than solid stone. Combined with the various minor warding spells on the cottages, this gives the tenants a fair feeling of security.
Other “standard” features of the cottages include a kitchen garden and a small barn / toolshed / workshop used to shelter livestock, farm wagons, and assorted tools. Some have been wired for electricity since the estates arrival in the USA, mostly for those guests who decide to take up residence in a vacant cottage as – in the Victorian-Reality dominant zone – it’s usefulness is limited.
The Estate’s small Brewery is fairly typical operation for the period, when every tavern brewed it’s own ale. While more variable then commercial beers, the quality is generally superior and the potency is certainly far higher. The brewmaster (Dion O’Cyrus) also dabbles in distillation, mead brewing, and even winemaking, if only to the extent of 40-80 bottles a year. How he manages to get even that many grapes from his small greenhouse remains a mystery. Dion works out of his own somewhat modified cottage.
The Gatehouse is a bit more substantial then it looks, unlike most Victorian gatehouses, it’s a lot more then a house for the gatekeeper. The gatekeepers window is enchanted to show the true form of those who pass thru the gates, penetrating disguises of whatever type – unless they’re very very good or are backed with considerable magical or psychic power. Similarly, the gates will resist attempts to open them from the outside; it takes a great deal of power to overcome their resistance. The house itself is quite defensible and well warded. Currently the gatekeepers major duties are announcing visitors and getting the mail. He’s also responsible for accepting packages, and sometimes for delivering pizza, a duty he usually gets well tipped for or sends one of his kids to take care of.
The Pavilion overlooks the lake and the formal garden, outside of being used for occasional garden parties and shelter from the rain the pavilion usually goes almost unused. It does have a small “basement” set back into the hillside for storing such things as; crochet sets, tennis gear, cricket bats, and so on. Such sports are usually played on the courts in the formal garden.
The Carriage House is by the stables, the second floor is a set of apartments for the coachman, now a sinecure for the most part, as Arselin prefers to drive his car. The lower floor is a towering space, designed to store coaches which often stand eight feet tall plus driver. It has several stalls, basic stabling arrangements for unusual occasions, several coaches, and assorted tools and supplies to repair them with. It also holds Arselin’s pet steam-powered automobile, plenty of tools, and often Jonathan Marden, the manorial smith, who has developed a keen interest in steam engines, automobiles, and odd mechanisms. Hopefully, no one will give him any Jules Verne novels for inspiration, otherwise he may well be the occult’s answer to weird science.
The Stanley Steamer is a Victorian-age automobile – albeit one capable (once the steam has built up) of exceeding 100 MPH and far more sturdily built than most current cars. The Stanley Steamer has only fifteen major moving parts, gets about 60 miles “a gallon” and – as the engine need not contain a series of explosions – is virtually silent. The engine takes anything burnable, including kerosine, paraffin, gasoline, and coal. It has no transmission, gearshift, clutch, or spark plugs and travels in reverse at full speed. Sadly, the Steamer does require 2 to 25 minutes to build up pressure (depending on the weather) unless special measures are used.
Arselin has magically rendered his pet vehicle even tougher than it used to be.
The Formal Garden is really almost normal, at least to look at. Despite the fact that the gardeners never go near the place it is impeccably maintained, persistent rumors about walking, talking, rabbits can probably be traced to the works of the Reverend Charles L Dodgson – or at least the Merrows hope that they can. They include a selection of statues, fountains, benches, paths, small fruit trees, tables with umbrellas, arbors, gazebos, and sundials. The formal gardens form a semicircle around the lake and slope gently up to the surrounding hills.
The Kennels are near the stables and house the estates various dogs, mainly a pack of fox hounds. Other dogs kept here include a pair of Irish Wolfhounds and a few bird dogs. Sheep dogs and such are kept by individual tenants as are a few “second sighted” watchdogs. Such animals are highly valued in the estates home universe – and make good plot devices.
The Bestiary was/is a small zoo, dating back to a very enthusiastic naturalist (Samuel Merrow) about a century ago. Today, the only buildings in regular use are the aviary and the cattery, both due to the hobbies of the current generation. The aviary is stocked with a fair collection of tropical birds, mostly hummingbirds. It has recently attracted the attention of the curator of the Boston Museum, an avid student of unusual species. The cattery still provides quarters for David Merrow’s favorite hunting cats, a breed related to the cheetah. Thanks to their naturally domesticateable nature and to a bit of magical training, the cats can safely be left to roam the estate, although they do startle visitors.
One of the Wells reportedly connects to the old Indian passages through an underwater passage or sliding section of wall. As just which well it is remains unknown, all the wells have been magically warded.
The Mews are a remnant from a period around 120 years ago, when hawking extremely fashionable. The building is now used as a storage area, although one small room is still used for birds by the stablemaster, who likes the hobby.
Despite the oddities, the estate includes a great many perfectly normal places, such as the fields and hedgerows, the kitchen garden, the laundry, the smokehouse, and (despite expectations) the church graveyard. Even the family crypt is quite normal and, like most burial sites in the horror-reality of the estate – will probably remain that way as long as regular maintenance is performed. Sadly, with the estate spreading its reality to the surrounding area, other abandoned graveyards in the area are likely to become perilous places all too soon.
Part of the old Indian Mound still stands on a section of the grounds, primarily because the ground around it is a bit swampy due to a small stream. Odd activities are sometimes seen there during solstices, equinoxes, and eclipses, but the place is otherwise quiet enough. It’s even a popular spot to pick berries in the fall.
Several adventurers used to spend a good deal of time around the estate, including Arselin Merrow (a cryptomancer and the current owner), Bryan Daniels (an expert on weather and purification magic), Maria (an enhanced – and more or less benign – werewolf), “Robin Hood” (a skilled scout and minor telekinetic), Michael Summers (a genetically-engineered otter trained for espionage operations. If he ever gets back from his attempt to rescue the other otters in the project he’s likely to settle down and become a family otter, although he’s likely to continue as a communications and research coordinator), and Eugen Slade (a psychic hacker).
The Mansion Proper :
The Trophy Room is a veritable museum of odd wildlife, creatures, and mementoes. While hunting trophies are the most numerous type of exhibit, the collection includes many such oddities as; a blasted suit of once-animated armor, two life-like posed werewolves in stasis fields (good for many centuries), a weretiger skin rug, a set of fangs from a sea serpent, a couple of stuffed carnosaurs (Theron Merrow went to great lengths to find new places to hunt), fragments of the shattered Corpsefire Ruby, a headless mummy, the Akenaten Scepter, a pair of stuffed Minotaurs carrying submachine guns, and many other oddities. Assorted family mementoes and journals are another large category, mostly commemorating “high points” in the family history. Most of this stuff has little, if any, “power” remaining, outside of possible clues about the nature and weaknesses of any recurring menace from the past, it probably has little relevance today – although it does tend to startle visitors.
The “Conservatory” is actually a good-sized greenhouse wrapped around the southern corner of the mansion. The associated rooms include (a); stillroom, potting room, drying room, compounding room with medicinals cabinet, and assorted storage rooms. It’s primarily devoted to exotic, unusual, medicinal, and/or magical, plants and herbs. Things which merely need a bit of a “start” on spring are planted in cold frames in the garden rather then in the conservatory. The complex also includes a physicians apartment and a small infirmary, conveniences which are rarely used unless there’s an epidemic.
The Chamber of Extrospection is an enormous hall lined with mirrors which, if gazed into, present scenes from other times, places, dimensions, and aspects of reality, or the depths of the viewers mind. This power can be purposely activated, used to communicate, or even used as a portal – but the scene cannot be shifted and the trip is sometimes one way. Only skilled mages can use the chamber, even the time required to reach it depends on how skilled the seeker is in the arcane arts. Selecting the “correct” mirror requires skill in divination, parting the curtains requires knowledge of manipulative magic, and activating a mirror requires skills in conjuration. Depending on the user’s skills, this can result in an uncontrolled portal, (semi-) controlled scrying, communication, opening a controlled portal – or even keying the portal to allow reopening the rift for a return trip (an ability requiring a true master of the recondite arts).
Note that – for the purposes of this room – it is possible to try to use magic “unskilled”, but this means that the GM rolls the dice; you never know how good your results are.
The “Indoor” Garden is much larger then can reasonably fit in the house, it includes a modest henge, grottos, groves of trees, fountains, flowerbeds, and a small forest of oaks. It’s occasional “wolf-howls” seem to be nothing but atmosphere, although there have been some very odd reports of phantom beings and ceremonies. The gardens exact nature is unknown, it simply “appeared” when the estate arrived in Scotland. As it roughly matches the estates size and layout it could be the area’s original landscape “displaced” by the estates arrival – although the mechanism remains mysterious. It is surrounded by mists, the doors that enter it seem to be freestanding portals from inside, and can be walked around. Wherever the garden is really located, it’s a bit friendlier to magic then most of the household – possibly due to some touch of faerie. Fantastic visitors are commonly more comfortable “camping” in the garden then using a guest room, provided that it doesn’t rain.
The Library is a complex of cubbyholes and nooks, with winding stairs, sealable vaults, closed and open stacks, and a balcony running around its upper floor. While some books have individual sealed rooms, most of the occult or magical books are in the bottom, warded, section of the stacks in an annex to the family archives. Various methods of cataloging the library have been tried, but with little success, as books sometimes simply appear. These volumes (occasionally collections) are rarely of much use, but are always interesting, as well as being neatly filed on the shelves. On a more practical note, the library is an excellent place to do research, anyone doing so gets a fair bonus on anything related to scholarly research, the sciences, magic or the occult, languages, and medicine – provided that he or she has at least 48 hours to spend researching the subject.
The Solar was designed to let the sunlight inside, its light wooden paneling, waxed floor, large windows, and many skylights make it seem almost luminous during the day, while even a crescent moon fills it with a serene sea of light during the night. Aunt Dorothea used the solar as an embroidery room until she disappeared some 15 years ago, leaving it unused. Currently the room proper is almost empty, although the entranceway holds a few short book racks and benches. There is, however, a small altar here – set up by a visitor who followed a semi-abstract faith in the powers of light and who felt that the room was an appropriate place for a chapel.
The Bedrooms are classic Victorian rooms, and normally part of a small suite (bedroom, sitting room, dressing room, and bathroom). The standard furnishings include a; four-poster curtained bed, claw-footed bath, wardrobe, thick rugs, heavy upholstered chairs, wainscoting, and other “antique” furniture. Despite the great amount of space in the suite, it always seems a little crowded.
The Gunroom is a dark-paneled, circular room near the study and the trophy room. While it (obviously) holds a wide selection of “modern” (Victorian) small arms and ammunition, it also holds a small stock of explosives, grenades, and even a few exotic/heavy weapons from other realms. There is a brass plaque on the wall dedicating the gunroom to the memory of a “Major Colin Barrington”. No one knows why. Common Victorian and items are virtually always available, but the exotic weapons inventory varies quickly as weapons are lost or added. In general, there’s about a 25% chance of locating any general type of weapon, and about a 5% chance of finding a specific one.
The Armory dates back many generations, and is primarily devoted to such antique weapons as flintlocks, swords, daggers, crossbows, shields, and bows. While the mansion holds quite a bit of armor, only the lesser pieces are in here, the better ones are displayed on racks around the house. The armory does have an adjoining practice room/dojo, notable for its animated practice dummy, if not for its extensive use. While the items stored here are usable in a pinch, they all need some work to make them really effective. The fencing foils are about the only exception, Andrew Fogg (the butler) secretly puts in half an hour or so against the “dummy” almost every day, enjoying thinking of himself as a dashing swordsman. He actually is very good.
The Kitchen is at the center of a network of pantries, storerooms, sculleries, brewing rooms, spinning rooms, rear stairs, servants passages, laundries, and quarters, which seems to include far more rooms, nooks, corners, poorly – lit passages, old barrels, strings of herbs, and casual obstacles then could reasonably be fit into the available space. Anyone unfamiliar with the area is likely to get lost within moments of venturing into this maze, even the servants get lost sometimes. The kitchen proper is a massive, “unfinished” room with a high ceiling and exposed beams – which support a huge array of tools, spices, and supplies, with shelves that go all the way up to the ceiling (several ladders are available to reach the upper shelves). The fieldstone walls and floor are blackened and stained by centuries of smoke, as is the massive hearth which dominates the room. A small gas range – a recent addition – looks very much out of place. While running water is on tap, the old pump is still intact. The kitchen is the private domain of Telerie Kant, who is very critical of anyone invading her kitchen.
The Hall of Fountains is wrapped around the first floor of the house, and contains eleven fountains. Most of the fountains are unremarkable, although their styles vary from Grecian to small and mossy. The halls centerpiece is the firefountian – which enhances its spouts and pool with a crackling aura of light. The precise purpose of this display is unknown, but the energy involved seems to have something to do with time.
The Gallery is a two-story hallway with an open center and adjoining one-story alcoves. It is primarily devoted to paintings, although some statues and other artworks are included. Most of the pieces are normal, although some have a disquieting “photographic” quality or give an odd impression of depth. The really odd pieces and collections are kept in closed alcoves. These include everything from the nightmarish Pickman paintings to a few that move, and/or, speak. One picture provides its own light, the sunbeams shining from it pool warmly on the floor of the gallery. According to the archives, a few of the ancestral portraits can be used to speak to the people they represent, as such communication is on the telepathic level, such reports may be nothing more then self-delusion.
The Terrace is a bit peculiar, while perfectly normal if reached by the main door the side door leads to a different prospect entirely, a terrace on an outcropping of rock jutting from the side of a plant-covered mountain. It is always night on the terrace, a dim light provided by the blaze of alien stars, above, below, and to the sides. While the gravity of the terrace is normal, there seems to be none beyond the railing.
The Family Chapel is a fairly typical layout, paneled in dark wood, and somewhat severe – an impression moderated by older design touches. Unlike most chapels, the small vault which usually serves to store records and church paraphernalia, is magically, occultly, and religiously, warded inside and out (opening it normally requires an invocation from a mage, a priest, and a warrior – all free of spiritual corruption and including the lord of the manor). No one recalls what might be in the thing, and no one in generations has had the nerve to find out.
The various Laboratories are the result of generations of hobbies and the “frozen” technology of the original world: unlike earthly labs, those of Victorian horror-realities rarely become obsolete. The labs include; biological, chemical, physical, photographic, alchemical/occult, magical, electrical, metallurgical, geological, archaeological, and botanical laboratories, all set up by enthusiastic amateur hobbyists. They have an eclectic assortment of equipment; while there are “gaps” that no professional would tolerate, other bits are magical substitutes for items far beyond Victorian technology. Some do really weird things,
The Vault is the repository of genuinely dangerous, or otherwise upsetting items; in general, if anything gets out of it, it’s likely to be a serious problem.
There were other rooms and notes of course, but that’s all that’s organized enough to be put up at the moment. If anyone can guess what game this was originally written up for, they will get the grand prize of their guess being confirmed in the comments…