The Emsworth Chronicle

I originally ran this as a campaign during my senior year of college, from 1990 to 1991. Two years earlier, I had run a mini-campaign set in D&D's Ravenloft adventures (Ravenloft and Ravenloft II). The player characters (PCs) of that were all childhood associates returning to their home town many years later. I found that the family and personal connections made the game vastly stronger than running impersonal adventurers. Inspired by reading original gothic tales like Castle of Otranto, I created a more thoroughly gothic campaign that centered on a cursed noble family, dark secrets, and magic with its own unique philosophy.

The Oneiros campaign was set in the quiet seaside village of Mordentshire, the largest village in the rather modest Barony of Mordent. Mordentshire is a fishing community with a little industry, and a little traffic by a land route from Wartyran to the south to Arnsdon in the north. The rest of the barony is generally supported by farming and some wine-making.

The ruling clan of the barony is the Emsworth family, who are distinguished in being distantly related to the Imperial family. The Emsworths have been in control of this land since before the Empire was founded. They are only mildly wealthy, but they have many valuable holdings having traditionally collected great artists, teachers, and mages to their estate.

The year of the campaign was 985, and recent global events included a war between Aberthy and Darele in the east. Closer to home, Baron Lawrence Emsworth had recently died. The PC's were all members of the late Baron's family or household. There was a matter of the Baron's successor. In his will, his eldest son St.John was denied the position, which then fell on the middle son Bryan Emsworth.

The Player Characters


What follow is an incomplete scattering of notes on the sessions of the campaign.

The Importance of Being Earnest - in which a father's refuse becomes a son's treasure

Nicholas Schilling, the 72-year-old son of a former mage of the barony, Earnest Schilling, breaks into the manor to search his father's quarters and is captured. He displays a bizarre talent for manipulating stone, and appears some fifty years younger than he ought. Sophrenia learns that he is drawn by what he must do, and does not understand the concept of free will. The Emsworths make a deal with him to learn Earnest's secrets, but later Nicholas returns and takes a further map. Following him, they realize the trapped fire elemental was what had killed Earnest as well as the late baron Lawrence and his father Nathan before him -- and that Nicholas had been manipulated into becoming a reincarnation of his father. Finding him in a distant cave, they destroy the rune he was manipulating, and he dies on the spot of old age.

The Circus Comes to Town - in which the circus arrives, suspicions are raised, and an old score is settled

A band of gypsies running a travelling circus set up camp outside town. At first they are investigated on suspicion, but only curiousities show up - fortunes told, tricks performed, and so forth. They eventually learn, though, that one of the band - Hecate - has an old feud with Sophrenia, who is her cousin and who claims Sophrenia and her mother stole a family power, an ancient pact with daemons. St.John decides that the duel is right in his mind. On his authority Sophrenia and Hecate fight, and Sophrenia wins handily. Peace is then made with the tribe, and Stewart asks them many questions regarding daemons.

Off the Rim and Into the Gyre - in which inquiries into the secrets of the manor stir the dangerous attentions of a vampyr

The Emsworths and their retainers continue to look into secrets of the manor and their own past. They discover how the late baron's father cursed his infant son St.John. St.John then dines with the family and retainers, but poisons them - to make them too weak to fight or resist as he claims the manor and barony as his. However, Andrew turns on him, breathing fire on him. The other family eventually destroy him and scatter his ashes on the sea.

Like Father, Like Son - in which the ghost of mage Woodrow's father begins to possess him, revealing hints of a power under the ocean nearby

Woodrow experiences visions of his father's ghost, who seems to be after something that Stewart's father had -- a golden ring somehow connected to Stewart's cat Isobel. The new baron Bryan, middle son of Lawrence, was drawn to play a strange haunting tune that seemed to pass out over the ocean.

The Weave of the Ocean - in which a certain fugue is played that draws unwelcome mariners to the manor

The new baron Bryan continues to experiment on the organ. The other Emsworths investigate, and contact the gypsies again. It seems that Stewart's father Paul had taken the ring, a token of impulsive daemons, from fay creatures beneath the ocean. They had been trapped in their own patterns by its lack, but the new closeness of it was drawing them. The others draw Bryan away from the organ, but the music continues as a spout slowly rises from the sea up the cliff to the manor. Thornin destroys the organ in a frenzy, the music stops, and the spout subsides.

Of Knights and Necromancers - in which the Emsworths join an unusual knight on a perilous quest

The Emsworths meet Sir Lukas, a knight who acts with extreme will that may be the result of a pact with ancient powers. They clash with him at first, but then join with him in searching out and eventually eliminating a dangerous necromancer who had taken up residence in an old monastery just south of the barony.

John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Sun Nov 10 10:34:08 2002