Wednesday, May 27, 2015

All Weal Little Woe (IV. Bloodborne)

Bloodborne has been a big influence on the Arksylvania setting I've been posting about. There is a bit of Bloodborne's Healing Church in the Church of the Wounded God, a bit of the Hunters in the Order of the Crimson Martyrdom, and the game's mix of Lovecraftian and Gothic horrors seeped in as well.

But more than that, the aesthetics of the game really inspired me anew. I mean, come on, just look at this stuff:

That's pretty much what it looks like inside my head.

And the monster designs? Well, this stuff is gorgeous:

The game's lore is suitably upsetting and mysterious. Warning, the following video contains spoilers:

And can we talk about how utterly fantastic the soundtrack is?

And not for nothing, the Bloodborne Strategy Guide is full of maps and hooks you could re-purpose for a tabletop RPG.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Arksylvania: Karnberg, Locksley, Malheim

  • Karnberg is a melancholic town accessible by way of the Vargo Pass; it is governed by burgomaster Isidora Malikov, a white-haired woman whose exotic looks mark her as a foreigner.i
  • Because of its proximity to Castle Konstantine, Karnberg supplies much of Gabriel von Konstantine's required blood tithe; Isidora Malikov is only too happy to turn over her citizens to von Konstantine.
  • The Halehurst Museum contains a number of rare antiquities brought back from the wider world; scholars from Creedhall University in Locksley claim that several of these items possess occult significance.
  • Locksley, the capital city of Arksylvania, is governed by Lord Mayor Cyprian Tremayne, a hedonistic dandy whose lovers tend to take their own lives once he is done with them.ii
  • Locksley is infamous as a den of sin and corruption; taverns, opium dens, music halls, and brothels are hardly in short supply.iii
  • The much-feared Aristrad Asylum lies on the outskirts of Locksley.

  • Malheim is a grim, run-down town governed by burgomaster Magnus Esperbrook, a gaunt man who openly mocks faith in the Wounded God.iv
  • The holding of seances to contact the spirits of the dead is a popular pastime for residents of Malheim.
  • The ruins of Thelemere Abbey lay nearby to the town of Malheim; the ruins are rumored to be the hideout of bandits, highwaymen, and worse.v

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Arksylvania: Exford Heath, Hawking Moor, Hungry Hollow

Before we get back to the locations of note in Arksylvania, I just wanted to show off the above header image I made for the setting. It's been a couple days since I made it and I don't even hate it yet. Thanks go to Gib for encouraging me to illustrate my own setting; the above image will appear in the eventual pdf of Arksylvania.

Back to our brief gazetteer of Arksylvania:

Exford Heath
  • Exford Heath is a windswept town governed by burgomaster Mariah van Kronedale, a wild-eyed woman who is fascinated by alchemy, anatomy, and vivisection.i
  • The roads leading to Exford Heath are said to be haunted by a masked phantom rider; few risk crossing his path after dark.ii
  • The residents of Exford Heath are known for their fiery tempers; duels over matters of slighted pride are not uncommon in this town.

Hawking Moor
  • Hawking Moor is a ramshackle town governed by burgomaster Copernicus Lichefield, a small, fidgety doctor of retiring disposition.iii
  • The animal trainers of Hawking Moor are renowned for the skill and loyalty they impart to hounds, falcons, and steeds.
  • A serial murderer preys upon the populace of Hawking Moor during the nights of the full moon; broadsheets have dubbed the killer “The Butcher Boy.”iv

Hungry Hollow
  • Hungry Hollow is a mining town governed by burgomaster Zuleika Greymalk, a flamboyant half-gypsy who seems to charm all who meet her.v
  • A curious intoxicant called wychwine is masterfully brewed in Hungry Hollow; when taken in excess, wychwine is known to cause hallucinations, phantasmal visions, and prophetic dreams.
  • In ages now past, a witch-hunt uncovered a coven of devil worshipers in Hungry Hollow; the specters of the condemned witches are thought to haunt the old burial grounds located just outside of

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

All Weal Little Woe (III. Penny Dreadful, season 2)

After what felt like a drought of entertaining television, every show that interests me (or that I watch out of a grim determination to see things through to the end) came back within a few weeks of each other. The latest seasons of Mad Men, Game of Thrones, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, and Salem all started recently.

Of course, all of those shows pale before the return of Penny Dreadful.

It's rare that I find myself in the demographic for a show--or experiencing the feeling that a show was made with someone like me in mind--but Penny Dreadful loves me and wants me to be happy. We're only a few episodes into the season and already we've got enough Victorian Gothic to keep me pleased for a long time.

If you're not watching it but like the kind of stuff I post about on this blog, you probably should give it a chance. If you like fun and insightful recaps, you should be reading Tom Blunt's take on the show. Check out his recap of the first episode herethe second here, and the third here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Arksylvania: Blighter's Manse and Dunlowe

Major Settlements in Arksylvaniai

Blighter's Manse
  • Blighter's Manse is a canal town governed by burgomaster Lazarus Grafenholt, a hulking man whose body and face are crisscrossed with disfiguring scars.ii
  • Blighter's Manse is Arksylvania's largest port town. It is a center of thriving maritime trade, but also a haven for pirates and buccaneers.
  • Decommissioned ships anchored outside the Manse's bay are used as prison hulks.

  • Dunlowe is a city of spires governed by Prester Theodoric III, a stern man of severe countenance who commands a personal army of masked zealots.iii
  • Dunlowe is home to the Cathedral Lacrimosa, a massive edifice decorated with brilliant stained glass, ornate arches, and sculpted gargoyles.iv
  • The Andronicus Sanatarium, a hospital that trains plague doctors, alienists, and anatomists, also resides within the walls of Dunlowe.

Monday, May 18, 2015


art by Chris Bourasa for Darkest Dungeon
This is the first in a series of posts detailing Arksylvania, a new Gothic Fantasy setting inspired in equal parts by Castlevania, Bloodborne, Penny Dreadful, and Darkest Dungeon. The setting is intended to be system neutral, so do what you like with it. I'm not the boss of you. 

Each entry about the setting will stick to the things that a citizen would know about the world they live in; however, each entry will also have footnotes leading to "setting secrets" that are to be discovered by the characters during play. The secrets will be kept under the "read more" cut in case you fear spoilers and such.

This first entry is merely the basic premise of the setting; specific locations and social institutions to come!

A Blood-Soaked History

Two generations ago, fog-shrouded Arksylvania was held in vassalage by the cruel Taz-Hadamin Empire. Arksylvania's boyars proved weak in the face of Taz-Hadamin dominance until Count Gabriel von Konstantine, an ancient lord who ruled the land in ages past, awoke from his death-like slumber to reclaim his homeland.i Using the forbidden magic of the Black Grail, von Konstantine raised a nightmarish army of the dead and damned, drove Hadamin agents from Arksylvania, and subjected Arksylvania's traitorous voivodes to public torture and execution. At first, the Count was heralded as a liberator and savior. However, soon after he assumed control of the country, a hungry and howling wind swept across the sublime and beauteous landscape; in its wake, unhallowed creatures returned to the domain to prey upon the citizens of Arksylvania: black masses were celebrated upon the mountaintops; villages were preyed upon by ravenous moonhexed beasts; unquiet shades haunted the living, driving them into the arms of tragic madness; uncanny demoniac plagues made victims of the populace.ii Worse yet, Gabriel von Konstantine turned tyrant and demanded that the populace pledge him an unthinkable tithe—the blood of the innocent.iii

Monday, May 11, 2015

All Weal Little Woe (II. Abigail Larson's Art)

II. Abigail Larson's Art

I just added another of Abigail Larson's prints to my walls. I mean, come on, this is a skull-faced Lizzie Borden, how could I resist? Here's what I've got so far:

If you'd like to darken up your home with some of Larson's work, you should definitely check out the Kickstarter for Sarah Faire and the House at the End of the World