Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Harrow Home's Dark Pit

Here and there, I'm jotting notes for the future setting of Harrow Home Manor.  It's significantly different than the Black City and is a good outlet for the supernatural and Gothic horror themes that don't quite belong on Thule.  You may recall, it’s a crumbling manse on the Yorkshire moors, a 16th century ruin on a site whose history stretches far into the past.  Factions of malign sorcerers compete in the darkness to control access to the secrets deep below the ruins.

In the deepest extent beneath Harrow Home is a miasmic hole known as "the pit".  The pit is the ultimate prize that drives the competing sorcerers of Harrow Home.  Access to the pit… and the strange thing it contains.

The object in the pit was brought to the moors in a time before history; there are drawings in those deeps from an early people that depict the thing in the pit when it was small, when it could still be carried, along with drawings of extinct animals such as the giant tusked mammoths.  There are renderings of the thing made at other times; a mural from the Roman occupation of the site, an ink drawing on vellum made by a Christian monk that's been stored in the wizard's library.  One cannot escape the conclusion that the thing in the pit is growing, and continues to grow, towards some unfathomable birth.  Now it fills the whole space and stands taller than a man.

Written accounts describe it as a black cyst, a scabrous oval whose crack-riddled surface secretes a repellent liquid discharge, or spews strange gases and ruinous spores.  These unhealthy discharges form an object of study by Harrow Home's arcane practitioners, both living and dead - they strive to create spells to coax this issue forth with greater frequency and receive the dark gifts it bestows.

The meaning behind the thing in the pit alters through the lens of the observer.  To the medieval monks, it was the Adversary itself, the morningstar expelled from the heavens and cast to earth, and they called it The Prisoner.  The Romans considered it a Celtic monster, the Celts thought it the eye of Balor, and earlier peoples worshipped it as a sleeping god.

In the end, the monks might not have been so wrong to imagine it fell to earth from beyond the world; the thing generates a terrible gravity as if it seeks to return to Hell itself and the lower dungeons are continually sinking.  If the records are to be believed, the old fane at the bottom of the pit was once on the surface of the moors, and the distance to the surface becomes greater as the centuries march on.  Thus, there are successive layers of history in the dungeon, and descending into the depths is tantamount to traveling backwards through time.

The first of many forays into the background of Harrow Home Manor, getting some early thoughts out on the blog while these ideas swirl around my head.  Most things too supernatural or Gothic quickly get jotted into the notebook for eventual inclusion into Harrow Home.  The cyst in the pit would make an awesome drawing - I'm imagining something like a steaming, cancerous version of Mothra's egg, with an obeisant sorcerer nearby.


  1. Awesome stuff. I like the idea of a dungeon forming around the entity — not any creation of human hands, but more like a subconscious emanation from the creature of the pit.

  2. did you ever, by any remote chance, play the PC adventure game Azrael's Tear?

    1. No, definitely not - does it have a black scabrous egg the size of a Volkswagen? :)

      I recently read the comic Ragemoor, and that was giving me some ideas on how the depths of a dungeon might appear to be taking on a degree of self-awareness...

  3. Random thought: the whole "crumbling manse with something dark underneath" made me think of Hodgeson's "House on the Borderlands" story, though the similarities end there.