<+DanielJamesHanley> Hello everyone. I’m Daniel James Hanley, creator of Ghastly Affair.
<+DanielJamesHanley> Ghastly Affair is a game of Gothic Horror and Romance set in the late 18th to early 19th centuries – the late Georgian, French Revolutionary, Napoleonic, and Regency eras. It’s based directly on the original, early Gothic stories, such as “The Monk”, “Frankenstein”, and “The Mysteries of Udolpho”.
<+DanielJamesHanley> It also draws inspiration from somewhat later works like “Wuthering Heights”, “Carmilla”, and the stories of Poe. The Hammer Horror films were also a big influence.
<+DanielJamesHanley> Players can portray characters ranging from aristocratic Libertines to Grave Robbers. The game is not just focused on fighting monsters, but also on social interactions – especially in High Society.
<+DanielJamesHanley> Ghastly Affair uses the essential conventions of Old-School games, such as the classic 6 Abilities, Classes, Levels, Hit Points, Saving Throws, and Armor Class. It also uses a unified roll-under Agility mechanic, however, and free-form descriptive characteristics (“Assets” and “Afflictions”).
<+DanielJamesHanley> Additionally, characters have a seventh characteristic – Perversity. This measures the extent of their mental and moral Corruption. Characters with high Perversity are likely to do wrong for the sake of doing wrong, even if it brings harm to themselves.
<+Diogo_OldSkull> Good night everyone!
<~Dan> Thanks, DanielJamesHanley! The floor is open to questions!
<+Diogo_OldSkull> Evening I mean
<~Dan> For those just arriving: (Link: https://engineoforacles.wordpress.com/ghastly-affair-the-gothic-game-of-romantic-horror/?fbclid=IwAR1sqCqTGeI5n5D0xNDyonmmkXnxg9c3YgS88ixAGavBQBpW7j4QdH36fFc)https://engineoforacles.wordpress.com/ghastly-affair-the-gothic-game-of-romantic-horror/?fbclid=IwAR1sqCqTGeI5n5D0xNDyonmmkXnxg9c3YgS88ixAGavBQBpW7j4QdH36fFc
<~Dan> When you said “roll under Agility mechanic”, did you mean to say “Ability”?
<+DanielJamesHanley> Hello Diogo_OldSkull
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – yes, I meant “Ability”.:)
<~Dan> Okay. That makes more sense. I thought that was a bit specific. 🙂
<+Drewcifer> A game of Byronic heroes! I love it
<+DanielJamesHanley> Thank you!
<~Dan> (Diogo_OldSkull here is another RPG author, as is Drewcifer. 🙂 )
<~Dan> What are the common tropes of romantic horror?
<+Diogo_OldSkull> Oh! Ghastly Affairs! I have all his books!!!
<~Dan> Really? Nice!
<+Diogo_OldSkull> (I am kinda of an OSR addict).
* ~Dan chuckles
<+Gaiska> Hi, everyone!
<~Dan> Hi, Gaiska! Here for the Q&A? 🙂
<+Diogo_OldSkull> So, what are your future plans for Ghostly Affairs?
<+Gaiska> Yes, I want to see the Q&A for Ghastly Affair 🙂
<+DanielJamesHanley> So, “Romantic Horror” and “Gothic” are basically synonyms. Its “Romantic” because it focuses not only love, but also the themes of Romanticism. It deals with extremes of emotion, the juxtaposition of time periods (especially relics of the past in the present), the confluence of desire and repulsion, gloom, and decay.
<+DanielJamesHanley> But, love is real. The world might be filled with pain and death, but it’s beautiful also.
<~Dan> Gaiska: Excellent. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have! 🙂
<+Drewcifer> How many splat books do you have out so far? What have their focuses been?
<+Drewcifer> I’d really like to see where the Romance-centric tone can go
<+DanielJamesHanley> Diogo – Right now I’m focused on completing the final version of “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates”. I’ve already released the un-illustrated “Rough-Hewn Edition” on DriveThruRPG. (Link: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/266025/A-Ghastly-Companion-to-Castles-Mansions–Estates–RoughHewn-Edition)https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/266025/A-Ghastly-Companion-to-Castles-Mansions–Estates–RoughHewn-Edition
<+Diogo_OldSkull> Oh yeah! I remember seeing this and wanting to wait for a PoD version.
<+DanielJamesHanley> After that, “A Ghastly Companion to Gothic Icons” and “A Ghastly Companion to High Society”. Also I’m working on GROOVY Ghastly Affair – Gothic in the Swinging Sixties and Groovy Seventies.
<~Dan> What a cool idea. 🙂
<+Drewcifer> Interesting on the Groove bit- evading the Goth scene of the 80’s on purpose?
<+DanielJamesHanley> Additionally, I’m in early talks with a publisher for a potential Spanish edition of “Ghastly Affair”.
<+Gaiska> Love the Groove idea
<+DanielJamesHanley> Drewcifer – The first supplement was “A Ghastly Potpourri” – a grab bag of character options, inspirational material, new adversaries, and fiction. Its the book with stats for Krampus – and Saint Nicholas!
<+DLB_Chuck> Cool on Krampus
<+DanielJamesHanley> Drewcifer – Definitely not evading the 80s! NEON Ghastly Affair has as many possibilities as GROOVY. In fact, we’ll be play-testing material that will work in either era.
<+Drewcifer> I must go, but I like your takes, Daniel! Would love to connect with you on Facebook sometime!
<~Dan> Take care, Drewcifer!
<+DanielJamesHanley> I can see games inspired by “The Hunger”, for example.
<+DanielJamesHanley> Take care, Drewcifer.
<+Diogo_OldSkull> Nice talking to you Drewcifer
<+Drewcifer> Very good. Let the Batcave reign
<+DLB_Chuck> If you hit the 80s you could include something like highlander immortals
<~Dan> How does Ghastly Affair encourage romance?
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – Any character that declares themselves to be in “True Love” with another receives a +3 Bonus on Ability Checks whenever they act on behalf of their beloved. So long, of course, as they actually treat the other like a lover.
<~Dan> That works.
<+DanielJamesHanley> And it doesn’t matter if the beloved is The Devil himself – so long as you are in “True Love” with them, you get the Bonus!
<+DLB_Chuck> That’s a neat mechanic
<~Dan> Does it max out at 18, or can it result in superhuman levels of Ability?
<+Gaiska> What happens if the “True Love” dies in front of the Character? Any Penalization applies?
<+DanielJamesHanley> All Bonuses in Ghastly Affair “stack”. So, yes, True Love can allow one to do seemingly superhuman things. But any Ability score above 10 is above average, and uncommon. 9 is the human average.
<+DLB_Chuck> Does it use the standard D&D bonuses for abilities?
<+DanielJamesHanley> Gaiska – The character might suffer the Affliction “Lost Love”, inflicting a -3 Penalty on all actions – except those undertaken to avenge their love (which get the +3 Bonus).
<~Dan> (Howdy, GrimmgardTodd!)
<+GrimmgardTodd> (Hey Dan 🙂 )
<+DanielJamesHanley> DLB_Chuck – There are no “Ability Bonuses” because its a pure roll-under system. d20 under the Ability Score, which might be temporarily increased or decreased by a Bonus or Penalty.
<~Dan> How does combat work?
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – basically the same as everything else. The attacker makes a Dexterity Check (or alternately Strength, if they are using a hand-held bludgeoning weapon). The Defender’s Armor Class is a Penalty to the Check.
<+DanielJamesHanley> For example, if your Dex is 12 and the defender’s AC is 2, you need to roll under a 10 to hit them (12 – 2). Most weapons do d6 damage , plus a Damage Bonus determined by the attacker’s Class and Level.
<+DLB_Chuck> How is AC calculated?
<+DanielJamesHanley> DLB_Chuck. The basic AC is 0, or none. The whale-bone stays worn by women grant +1 AC against slashing attacks. A steel helmet grants +1 AC. A Napoleonic cuirass grants +3. The basic formula is +2 AC per 10% of the body covered by a completely impervious material (like thick stone), or +1 per 10% covered by a very tough material (like thin metal).
<~Dan> So Strength doesn’t add to melee damage?
<+DanielJamesHanley> A suit of antique armor is AC 9.
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – No, only your Damage Bonus.
<~Dan> Who are the adversaries in this setting?
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – Adversaries can range from Bandits to Death himself. In many games, the primary adversaries will be the human monsters of High Society, with their endless games. An adversary doesn’t need to be a threat to your life. A rival in love can also be one. Supernatural adversaries are meant to be used sparingly.
<~Dan> So the supernatural isn’t inherently a part of the game?
<+DanielJamesHanley> In the original Gothic stories, the main adversaries are actually bandits, ghosts, and depraved nobles. Vampires and Werewolves don’t actually come in until later.
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – While the rules assume the reality of the supernatural, it can be easily removed. Don’t use the Magician or Mad Scientist Classes, or any supernatural creatures. So, you can do “Jane Eyre” or “Northanger Abbey” if you want!
<~Dan> What supernatural creatures do you include in the game?
<+Gaiska> Are you going to make an adventure or campaign later?
<+DanielJamesHanley> Supernatural Adversaries range from Vampyres (also available as a PC Class) to dark Fairies (such as the fearsome Earlking) and Possessor Demons. You can even face off against the Incarnations of Death, or dread Demogorgon (the Demon-God who might, or might not, have actually created the Earth).
<~Dan> I assume there are ghosts as well?
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – There are also complete rules for making Vampyres and Werewolves of whatever power level is desired, and no two Vampyres need have exactly the same powers and debilities. Some are destroyed by sunlight, but most are simply ordinary people by day.
<+DanielJamesHanley> Gaiska – Right now there is the Highdark Hall setting for those who want a ready-made theater for Gothic romance. (Link: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/254169/Highdark-Hall)https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/254169/Highdark-Hall
<+Gaiska> Great 🙂
<+DLB_Chuck> How many books are there so far?
<~Dan> What are the classes?
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – naturally, there are Ghosts. Most are Phantoms – unable to do real damage, but possessing powers of illusion. Each has a “release” – an action that if performed, will lay them to rest.
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – other types of Ghost include Spectral Animals, such as packs of spectral wolves that might roam a forest at midnight.
<+DanielJamesHanley> DLB_Chuck- The books so far are the “Ghastly Affair” Player’s Manual”, the “Ghastly Affair Presnter’s Manaual
<+DanielJamesHanley> “Ghastly Affair Presneter’s Manual”, “A Ghastly Potpourri”, “Highdark Hall” and “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, & Estates – Rough-Hewn Edition”.
<+DanielJamesHanley> Additionally, there is William Rutter’s Ghastly Affair novel “Hunter’s Song”, which I recommend to all. (Link: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/222426/Hunters-Song-A-Ghastly-Affair-Novel)https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/222426/Hunters-Song-A-Ghastly-Affair-Novel
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – The main Classes are “Bandit”, “Demon Hunter”, “Everyman”, “Grave Robber”, “Gypsy”, “Libertine”, “Mad Scientist”, “Magician”, and “True Innocent”. Additionally, Vampyres and Werewolves can be PC Classes, if the Presenter (GM) allows.
<~Dan> Are supernatural protagonists a thing in the genre fiction?
<+DLB_Chuck> Are there “created” like Frankenstein’s monster?
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – Not so much early on. The basic “Gothic Heroine” is represented by the True Innocent. Some are dispossessed noblemen forced into banditry . The protagonist of “Vathek”, however, does possess the Evil Eye (and his mother is a sorceress).
<+DanielJamesHanley> And of course, there’s Victor Frankenstein!
<~Dan> Vathek… Where was that written?
<+DanielJamesHanley> DLB_Check – “The Creature” is represented by the “Reanimated Wretch”. As in the actual story, the creature is fast, agile, and possessed of an incredible ability to learn at an accelerated pace.
<~Dan> What sorts of abilities are available to the Magician?
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – “Vathek” was written by William Beckford, an extremely rich and profligate Englishman also known for his art collection. It’s set in a dark fantasy version of medieval Iraq.
<+DanielJamesHanley> “Vathek” is one of the original Gothics, written in 1786.
<~Dan> Is this more of a game for one-shots or campaigns?
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – Magicians can use four different types of spells. Incantations require a “Magical Implement” and cause the loss of vitality, but can be used as needed. Ceremonies can summon Demons and affect people at a distance, but are expensive and time-consuming.
<+DanielJamesHanley> A Talisman can provide a constant spell effect, but can be expensive to make (and the Magician can only have one Talisman at a time). A Pact is an agreement with a Spirit to create a spell effect, and the Spirit might demand anything from blood to the sacrifice of gold.
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – Ghastly Affair works equally well for One-Shots and Campaigns (called “Sagas”). There are actually a few Ghastly Affair One Shots that can be viewed on YouTube. My home game is a Saga.
<~Dan> (Howdy, BryanDonihue!)
<+DanielJamesHanley> Hi, BryanDonihue!
<+BryanDonihue> (Hey Dan and Daniel)
<~Dan> Is Ghastly Affair your first published game?
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – Yes. But I’ve been playing (and writing home-brew material for) RPGs for 35 years now!
<~Dan> Did you use Kickstarter?
<~Dan> wb, BryanDonihue
<+DanielJamesHanley> Dan – No. The game was originally released as a free version on my blog, the Engine of Oracles. (Link: https://engineoforacles.wordpress.com/)https://engineoforacles.wordpress.com/ . I didn’t want to tempt myself to overpromise with the illustrated version, which I’ve seen as a common pitfall with crowdfunding.
<~Dan> I see.
<~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
<+DanielJamesHanley> Yes. One of the things I want to demonstrate with Ghastly Affair is that you can have a game that is thoroughly Old School, yet focused on mood, character, and story. The basic Old School rules chassis is capable of much more than is often assumed, and I hope Ghastly Affair shows it.
<~Dan> Very cool. 🙂
<~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us, DanielJamesHanley!
<+DanielJamesHanley> Thank you for having me. I had a great time!
<+Gaiska> Thanks for your answers 🙂
<~Dan> Usual shameless plug: If any of you have enjoyed this Q&A and would like to treat me to a coffee, you can do so here: (Link: https://ko-fi.com/gmshoe)https://ko-fi.com/gmshoe 😀
<~Dan> Now, if you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll get the log posted and link you!