Saturday, 7 April 2018

Locations - Nördlingen, the Faerie-Free Town


The Faerie - free town.


 The Town’s Coat of Arms.

Nördlingen is a Bavarian town, 75 miles north-west of Munich. It has a population of some 6,700 souls.

Near the centre of the town is fifteenth century Saint George's Church with its 98 yard high steeple, called  the "Daniel Tower", which according to Natural Historians, is made of a suevite impact breccia that contains both tiny diamonds and pieces of Cold Iron.

Around two miles in circumference, the town’s medieval wall still has its covered sentry’s walk. It is constructed from local stone which also includes small quantities of Cold Iron from the meteorite.

These two things have formed a rare phenomenon - inside its walls, Nördlingen is entirely free of Faerie of any kind.

Centuries ago, the townsfolk made a special agreement with powerful Faeries. This document states that anybody living within the walls is not only protected by Cold Iron, they are also safe from more mundane attacks that might be instigated by any Faerie using Human or other agents. Of course, once they set foot outside, they are fair game. In return for this Right of Sanctuary, the locals have sworn never to allow any of their store of Cold Iron to leave the town. 

Several battles in the Thirty Years’ War (mid-17th century) and the French revolutionary wars (late18th century) were fought outside the medieval walls as different nations attempted to gain control over the Cold Iron. Faerie allies, cunning diplomacy and the local militia have always managed to keep it safe.

Many of the original inhabitants of the old town now live in the suburbs outside the walls having sold or rented out their homes to those seeking sanctuary. They often have large holdings as even a tiny house there can demand a very high price from someone fleeing the wrath of a Faerie Lord.

Anyone heading to Nördlingen to escape the Faerie needs to have sufficient funds to pay for lodgings for at least one week. Its unique circumstances means that even a cold, ill-furnished garret room is likely to cost the same as a suite in a hotel in a city elsewhere. The local Police are quite zealous in checking this.  Those found without the necessary resources will end up spending a night in a cell and be ejected from the walled town, to meet their fate, in the morning

Aside from this, Nördlingen is noted for its carpet and rug weaving, and for its geese and excellent sausages.

Host’s Notes:  Faerie require at least Great Courage to remain in the suburbs and are completely unable to go inside the walls.

Nördlingen is actually in a large crater (15 miles across) formed 14.5 million years ago by a meteorite impact. In our universe, 19th century scholars believed that the circular geological feature of the crater was of volcanic origin, it was only in the 1960s that the real cause was discovered.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Tales from the Archives: The Original Adventure Entertainment - Chapter Twelve.

Chapter twelve.
the catacombs of Rome
In which our heroes plumbed the depths of adventure!

Dramatis Personae:
Katerina, Grafin (Countess) von Ulmfeld from Bavaria
Ruprecht , Ritter von Schlan, of the Austro-Hungarian Diplomatic Corps
Rittmeister (Captain)Maximilian von Ström, of the Austro-Hungarian Lancers
Louis LeBrun - A French Inventor
Frau Elsa Berg - An Austrian Nursing Sister of the Order of Cassandra
Captain Kenneth Campbell, of the British Black Watch regiment
Karl Bergman - An Austrian Explorer & student of Esoteric Orientalism

An excerpt from the diary of Katerina, Countess von Ulmfeld.

November 1871

“Well, the Lord doth, indeed, work in mysterious ways and who would have thought it of a Cardinal?  We have been requested by His Holiness’s envoy to find compromising materials elating to an affair, including a notebook of assignations, a Dageurotype, and a family seal ring.

Upon visiting the house used for these nefarious purposes, we found a parchment with these words upon it:

‘Your eyes, nose and ears will be warned
But you may fall before the axe.
From the points to the Flames of Hell
you may drown before the mill.
You must enter the deep and rise to stop whilst moving on
and the triple Guardians will hold the last key.’

Most Curious, we thought.

Investigating the house in detail, Max happened on a route down into the catacombs. So, taking our lanterns (not to mention our lives, as it turned out) in hand, off we went.

I will not details the full extent of the Adventures we experienced under the highways of Rome but suffice it to say without the clues afforded s by the enigmatic poem, all would have been lost: Dreadful sights, smells and noises greeted us before we had gone a hundred yards; an axe swooped out from nowhere; Deadly spikes arose to impale us; fire; rising water forced us to swim for our very lives; the floor moved backwards as we made our way towards the doors; and those could only be opened by using a hidden lock!

At the end of such tortures, we finally arrived in a very cosy and Private room where we were rewarded by the discovery of the Illicit Articles. Karl also found a very interesting, old (Egyptian, I think) manuscript, which he borrowed.

Still, far be it from me to disparage the Holy Roman Church - especially as His Holiness himself rewarded my efforts with a Papal Insignia which may, I am sure, come in very useful if I am ever so foolish again as to do something which Otto (what a sweet dear he is) requests.”

The Ritter von Schlan did not take part in this adventure directly due to his leg wound from Sicily. When the others had returned, he visited the Cardinal and gave him the documents and picture. The other members of our company questioned why they hadn’t kept the items themselves in order to blackmail the Cardinal into giving up his brother, the Count di Rigatorri. The Ritter remained silent on the subject.

Captain Campbell had to return to Paris in order to finally fight the duel against Baron de Remartinont (see chapters eight and nine) - He was mortally shot but was rushed to Templars who saved his life using powerful magick - now he owed them a BIG favour.

Host’s notes:
This Chapter ran in Winter 1998.
Time for a good old-fashioned dungeon crawl. A little homage to D&D in CF.
Ruprecht, Ritter von Schlan, is known as “Otto” to his friends (It is his middle name).
Worthy of High Merit: The whole party for exemplary teamwork and actually using the props given to them for once ;)

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Some Films to Inspire you in Your Castle Falkenstein Adventures.

Some Films to Inspire you in Your
Castle Falkenstein Adventures.

There are many films which can inspire Castle Falkenstein plots and backgrounds. The
original  rulebook and the GURPS one contained lists but here are some more which I like

 Night of the Demon (1957) 
(aka Curse of the Demon)

Starring Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins and Niall MacGinnis. 

 A British horror film adapted from the M. R. James story "Casting the Runes" (1911). 
The plot involves an American psychologist investigating a satanic cult suspected of more
than one murder.

Although not set in the Victorian Era, this film is worth watching for Niall MacGinnis's great 
portrayal of a evil Gentleman Magician  who acts in a very "velvet glove containing an iron
fist" way. The character would make a great Falkenstein Villain.
 I have also used the cursed magic square idea from this film in my campaign too.

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
(a.k.a. Young Sherlock Holmes and the Pyramid of Fear)

Starring: Nicholas Rowe, Alan Cox and Sophie Ward.

A good, old-fashioned fun-filled romp! Holmes & Watson met up for the first time a boarding school and solve a plot to murder a group of men over a past deed. I particularly love the hallucination scenes after they are hit with drugged blowpipe darts.

There is a nice twist at the end involving the chief villain.

The villains are an Ancient Egyptian Cult with a secret, underground pyramid in the heart of London (Temple of Ra, anyone?) .

 Without A Clue (1988)

Stars:, ,  

 A drunken actor (Caine) plays the part of Sherlock Holmes as a cover for the real detective - Dr Watson (Kingsley).  A great comedy film with the incompetent and cowardly Holmes finding redemption in taking on Moriarty (or Arty Morty. . One of my favourite Victorian Era films, I have watched it many times.

Perhaps trying a Falkenstein twist with your Great Detective incapacitated and his Fetch or Doppleganger attempting to solve the crime without the skills necessary.

An Ideal Husband (1999)

Starring: Rupert Everett, Julianne Moore, Peter Vaughan 

One of Oscar Wilde's social satires,
'An Ideal Husband' revolves around the lives of two men, successful political figure Sir Robert Chiltern and his friend the utterly charming Lord Arthur Goring. Chiltern's life is perfect thanks to the help of his loving and brilliant wife Gerturde and the support of his quick witted sister Mabel. Goring's life is one of lounging, flirting with Mabel, and avoiding his father's insistence that he should marry. The world of these men is turned upside down by the arrival of old acquaintance

Julianne Moore’s character, Mrs. Laura Cheveley , a single women making her own way in the world by using society contacts and blackmail would make a great Dramatic Character as an Adventuress in Castle Falkenstein.

The Illusionist (2006)

Director: Neil Burger 
Stars: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti, Rufus Sewell

A terrific performance by Paul Giamatti as the Chief of the Vienna City Police. An excellent film set in Fin de Siecle Austria-Hungary. Its plot is centred around the Forbidden Love between a Stage Magician and a Countess.  The story line continually blurs the line between Illusion and Fact with what seems like a straight forward ending, but listen to the Director’s comments on the DVD about the end and it takes on a rather different hue.

Nice magical effects, social barriers, secret police and a potential coup plot will give you great ideas for your campaign.

The Prestige (2006)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine

In Edwardian London, a stage magician is accused of the murder of a rival magician. The film shows flashbacks of how the vicious rivalry began and the ways they have continued it over the years. The story is dark, complex and compelling with many twists and turns including the appearance of Nikola Tesla.

Without giving too much by way of spoilers, a similar plot, perhaps involving two brothers rivalry for a title/throne, could work well in the Falkenstein Universe, especially with Shapeshifting, Dopplegangers and Mad Science!. 

 Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams.
These two films are Guy Ritchie’s take on the classic Detective.
An all-action film in which Holmes and Watson take on a hidden enemy within the British Establishment who aims to take the British Crown for himself.  
The Secret Society involved has Strong Overtones of the Temple of Ra with a nice twist at the end.


Sherlock Holmes - Game of Shadows (2011)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris.
Anarchist Bombings, Break Ins, Gypsy Bands, a Diplomatic Ball and the Schemes of a Powerful Nemesis! Holmes is trying to foil Moriarty’s plans across Europe.  
A real Falkenstein style plot with plenty of scenes that will inspire you. All that is missing is a touch of Magick.

Apparently, a third Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes film is due to start filming later this year.