The American Revolution was a tumultuous time in history. The events leading up to the “shot heard round the world” have grown in the telling, becoming almost mythic in their own right. Liberty and Death is a fictional bleed of the decade prior to the revolt against British rule combined with gothic horror.
The recursion consists of Warren county, a fictional county in the Massachusetts colony. A forboding forest named The Briarwood covers most of the recursion. Areas of civilization have been laboriously carved from the wilderness, but the inhabitants must constantly work to keep their roads and fields cleared since the forest tries to reclaim the land quickly.
The following authors works helped shape and inspire this recursion. I encourage you to give them a read.
- Cooper, James Fenimore: The Leatherstocking series of novels.
- Finlay, C. C.: The Traitor to the Crown series of novels.
- Irving, Washington: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (and especially Tim Burton’s theatrical version of the tale Sleepy Hollow).
- Jackson, D. B.: The Thieftaker series of novels and short stories.
- Lavallee, Ed & Bond, Grant: The graphic novel Revere: Revolution in Silver
- Shelly, Mary: Frankenstein; Or the Modern Prometheus
- Stoker, Bram: Dracula
Black Powder Weapons
Muzzle-loading, black powder weapons are the only common firearms in this recursion. Most are smoothbore weapons. They require one round to reload, so you may only fire a musket every other turn. Rifles are available and while more accurate, they are more difficult to reload, requiring two rounds. The following weapons are available to characters in this recursion:
- Pocket Pistol: Light weapon, maximum range is short, increase difficulty to hit by one level if not at immediate range.
- Pistol: Medium weapon, maximum range is short. Fine, duelling weapons are available and the GM may give especially well-made versions a +1 bonus to hit. Double-barrelled pistols may be available in Newport.
- Musketoon: Medium weapon, maximum range is long, increase difficulty to hit by two levels if not at short range. A longarm issued to cavalry and popular with sailors. It is shorter than a musket and usually fires a smaller caliber ball.
- Musket: Heavy weapon, maximum range is long, increase difficulty to hit by one level if not at short range. This is a military musket or “Brown Bess”. Most settlers would have a lighter model for hunting. Treat them as medium weapons.
- Rifle: Medium weapon, maximum range is long. This is a Kentucky rifle. A long, deadly accurate weapon.
- Blunderbuss: Heavy weapon, maximum range is short. Treat as a shotgun.
Places of Interest
The Black Goat Inn: The Black Goat is a coaching house, that lies along the High Road, which runs between Newport and Rackham. In addition to the inn and stable, there is a small trading post at this location. All of the buildings are joined by a stout wooden fence and the whole compound can serve as a makeshift fort in case of Indian attack. See the scenario: The Black Goat Witch on my website for more information.
Braithwaite College: A few hours walk north of Newport one can find the campus grounds of Braithwaite College. The college was one of the earliest institutions of higher learning established in the colonies. It offers degrees in a variety of topics such as Natural Philosophy, Medicine and History. Braithwaite has the finest library in the county and characters in search of information could well find more than they bargained for amongst its dusty tomes.
Briarwood: The Briarwood is an ancient forest that surrounds and defines the recursion of Liberty and Death. The forest floor is a mass of deadfall, thorny vines and buckthorn. Even on the brightest days, gloom pervades beneath its canopy. The inhabitants of the recursion have laboriously cleared portions of the forest for their farms and villages. The forest seems to resent the colonists’ intrusion, seeking to reclaim the “stolen” lands. The Briarwood is dark and brooding. Many of its trees are giants; hundreds of years old, black, twisted and scarred by lightning. The locals say the trees speak to one another in voices that men cannot quite hear. Some even whisper the trees are capable of moving and delight in the capture and torture of the unwary. See the scenario: The Old Church for an example encounter in this dismal place.
Cotter’s Field: Abraham Cotter’s farm has been abandoned for nearly 15 years. His cornfield is neglected, but every year a new crop of corn grows in it. People say the field is haunted, and with good reason. Abraham’s daughter Prudence disappeared in the field 15 years ago. Since that time, at least a dozen more people have gone missing in the vicinity. Some claim to have seen a little girl in a calico dress playing in the field. Is the ghost of Prudence Cotter drawing people to their deaths, or is something darker lurking in this place? See the scenario: The Ghost of Cotter’s Field on my website for more information.
Dordreccht: Dutch settlers built Dordreccht nearly a century and a half ago. The stout colonists carved out a thriving, little farming community. During King Phillip’s War, a party of Mikwa raiders descended on the village, slaughtering the inhabitants to a man. The village was abandoned and The Briarwood rapidly reclaimed the area. It is an eerie place. One hundred years have passed, yet several buildings still stand. Those remaining are so covered in vines, creepers and moss that it is impossible to see any of their original structure; almost as if the buildings had grown from the forest of their own accord. Hunters claim that the trees near the village seem to change location periodically and on nights of the new moon, a ghastly light emanates from the center of the place.
Dunsmoor: Dunsmoor is a small farming village located in the heart of the recursion. The Briarwood nearly engulfs this isolated hamlet. It is a quiet place. Too quiet in fact. No children play in its streets and the schoolhouse has stood empty for years. If asked, the inhabitants will mutter that they have not been blessed.
Fenwick: Fenwick lies along the Tamarack River. It’s old mill used to grind much of the corn grown by the surrounding farms. The mill stands empty now, as does the entire town. Nobody knows what happened to the villagers. An attack by the Mikwa is suspected, but no signs of a struggle and no bodies have ever been found. It is as if the entire village just woke up one morning and walked away.
Hammersley Lunatic Asylum: The horrors of this recursion can shatter a person’s grip on reality. Insanity is understood to be caused by an imbalance of the four humors of the body and treatments for the mad are available. The most fortunate are housed in private residences under the care of family. The less fortunate are left to fend for themselves. The least fortunate are incarcerated in the Hammersley Lunatic Asylum.
Newport: Newport is a sizable city of nearly 20,000 inhabitants. It is the largest settlement in the recursion. It is the only harbor of significance and her docks are usually crowded with ships loading and unloading cargo. Seafaring men in the recursion lack the spark and refuse to take anyone aboard their vessels who has it, citing bad luck or any number of excuses. Oddly enough, trade is the lifeblood of the city with food being shipped out and finished goods such as textiles, or firearms being imported. Newport is the home of Braithewaite College, a respected school of higher learning. There is a dark underbelly in this city. Crime is rampant. Gangs of thugs demand protection money from the few honest shopkeepers, smugglers seem to outnumber honest merchants, and resurrection men increasingly ply their grisly trade.
Rackham: This small village lies in the far west of the recursion. Its inhabitants are strange and insular. There is a definite “look” to the Rackhamites. Most are rail-thin, with dark, lined skin. A few have extra digits on their hands and feet. Local farmers only come to this place out of necessity, as the local mill is the only place to grind wheat into flour.
Saint Ignatius Monastery: The secretive brothers of St. Ignatius have carved their community from the deepest parts of the Briarwood. Little is known about this order. The brothers rarely travel and visitors to this remote place are few. Holy relics are rumored to lie within the catacombs beneath the compound and its library is said to rival that of Braithwaite College. See the scenario: The Yellow Brethren for more info.
Weymouth: This coastal fishing village sits where the mouth of the Tamarack River empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Once a thriving port, the fortunes of the village began to wane when the barges carrying flour shipments from Fenwick ceased to arrive. Of late, the cod seem to have fled from the bay as well. Many locals believe the village has been cursed.
Whispering Caves: A complex of caves can be found in a small, rocky outcrop not far from Dunsmoor. Locals shun the place, claiming it is a portal to Hell itself. On dark nights they claim Satan himself can be heard whispering blasphemies from the depths of this cursed place.
Liberty and Death is a place of Gothic Horror. When creating encounters think of the “classic” horror monsters. The following creatures published by Monte Cook Games in The Strange Bestiary are suitable for this recursion: Bogeyman, Chimera, Collective, Deep One, Ghost, Mad Creation (it does not have the electromagnetic attack), Mirror Gaunt, Nightgaunt, Nuppeppo, Phantasmic Parasite, Reanimated, Sapient Tree, Skeleton, Soul Eater, Vampire, Werewolf, Witch, Zombie.
Additional creatures are described at the bestiary page on my blog: Animate Scarecrow, Briar Wolf, Ghoul, Giant Spider, Harpy and Tanglewyrd.