The Gaudy

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Pages: 9

Author(s): Ian Gorlick


Setting: 1890s, 1920s or Modern

Appears in: Christmas in Kingsport (monograph).



The investigators are invited to Porterhouse College for a Christmas lecture series, and attendance at a great holiday feast called The Gaudy.


Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only

Players should not read any further.


All old English colleges are steeped in strange and elaborate traditions and rituals; Porterhouse College is no exception. The Investigators, who are either old scholars or potential benefactors of the school, might even have heard of the odd tradition known as The Christmas Gaudy. Each Christmas old Masters who have passed beyond the grave are invited to take a place of honour at the Christmas feast. This isn't, however, a symbolic return -- instead, the embalmed bodies of the former teachers are brought from their coffins and literally brought to the feasting hall. In more recent, enlightened, times the coffins have been fitted with glass panels so that the increasingly decomposing bodies do not need to be disturbed each year.

While the tradition of The Gaudy is odd, it's just one of those things the school accepts as normal. This Christmas, however, much stranger events are set to unfold. The weirdness begins when the Porterhouse Old Boys prepare for the feast -- the corpses of the old Masters are missing! Then, some days later the bodies begin to turn up in strange locations some distance from the school. Later still, a series of murders takes place. It falls to the Investigators to try to piece together the odd truth behind these apparently inexplicable events.

The current events have come about due to the machinations of two willful men. The first is Jephraim Nicholls, one of the dead Masters, who before his death experimented with the occult in an attempt to prolong his lifespan. While he didn't entirely succeed, he didn't entirely fail either -- in death he persists in Astral form and can occupy dead bodies (his own, those of the other dead scholars) and animate them for a short time. This situation has prevailed for some years without significant incident. It is the actions of the other main protagonist, current Master Grantley, that brought mischief upon the College. Grantley is well known for his opposition to the whole tradition of The Gaudy. This year he has taken it upon himself to ensure that the dead Masters do not take their place at the head table -- he has arranged with others for the bodies to be stolen, ultimately to be cremated. But this plan was foiled when Nicholls animated his own body, then others, in an effort to escape a fiery end.

Ultimately Scullion, the College porter, realizes the threat to the schools longstanding traditions and starts targeting those who have participated in the foul plot, arranging for innocent-seeming accidents to befall them.


Player Handouts: There are no handouts.

Locations: No specific location is given for Porterhouse College; the scenario while nominally set in the 1920s could easily be run in the Gaslight era with minial changes

Creatures: Aside from the re-animated Masters (who aren't really a threat) there are no real monsters

Tomes and Artifacts: Nicholls' occult experiments involved preparation of two formulae: "Perfecting the Spirit for Eternal Life" and "Preserving the Body Incorruptable".

Campaigns / Scenarios:


This scenario is inspired by "Porterhouse Blues" by Tom Sharpe and "Lively Spirits" by Robertson Davies.

Keeper Comments

This scenario is presented in a deliberately unstructured way. It lays out the basic background for the unfolding events and provides a timeline of happenings. Beyond this, the nature of the investigation is only sketched out by way of notes about possible lines of enquiry and information about the primary characters and their backgrounds.

Keepers who prefer to run tightly structured scenarios would need to undertake some preparation prior to running this scenario.