Recently the website Reviews with R’lyeh did a review of The Corpse That Love Built. (They had previously reviewed They Served Brandolyn Red). I’ve been meaning to do a full “designer diary” write up of the connections, so I’m re-posting my response to R’lyeh here so other readers can learn about the connections between the two adventures if they’re interested.
First of all – thank you so much for reviewing The Corpse That Love Built and They Served Brandolyn Red. I always appreciate people taking the time to read and review my adventures, so again, thank you.
In your review you’d mention that there weren’t many connections between Brandolyn and Corpse. I wanted to give you a bit of a “behind the scenes” of the making of Corpse as I think it might explain a bit about how Corpse was designed. About a year after Brandolyn was published I wrote to Joseph Goodman and said, “Hey, do you folks ever publish sequels? I have an idea for a Brandolyn sequel, here it is…” The feedback I received was (essentially), “No, we don’t do sequels, but that’s a great story idea, so write that, and don’t call it a sequel.”
So I essentially wrote Corpse and hid the “sequel-y-ness” as Easter Eggs in the adventure. Sharp eyed readers of Brandolyn pick up on them, but it was never marketed as a sequel and I’ve always called it “a spiritual sequel” in my blog posts. But now that some time has passed (and I had an opportunity to go back and re-edit bits for Brandolyn when they re-printed it earlier this year), I’m making the connections a bit tighter.
So that said, here’s some of the connections. Filthy spoilers ahead…
The minor stuff:
- Location: the adventure takes pace in Portnelle (which, between that and Sagewood, is becoming a bit of a “home base” for many adventures I write).
- Father Giralt is the same priest who officiated the wedding in Brandolyn. When I was writing Brandolyn (as well as Corpse) I wanted to show examples of a cleric effectively demonstrating Disapproval. That’s why he’s shaving his head, and bathing in a vat of hair in those adventures.
- Lady Michaela Leddy: The Leddy family is obviously a strong connection in Brandolyn. Hort (the groom’s) mother is Wichaela Leddy. So while I didn’t get explicit with the connection, clearly bad times are still befalling the Leddys.
But now… the Big Stuff:
Doctor Lotrin von Weißgras-Geisterblut: Dr. Geisterblut is more than a nod to Lotrin Whitegrass… he is Lotrin Whitegrass. Doctor Lotrin von Weißgras-Geisterblut just happens to be his full name (Weißgras-Geisterblut is German for Whitegrass Ghostblood). In Brandolyn Red it says this about Lotrin: “….He will curiously offer a reward for the return of Hort’s remains or, suspiciously, any other remains they may find. He also offers a significant reward for any bottles of Brandolyn Red the PCs may find as part of their investigation.” There is also the following “family rumor” in the Whitegrass tree: “There is a dark family secret that Lotrin Whitegrass would pay a reward for the retrieval of the bones of Brandolyn Vintner— a human that lived and died over a century ago.
As we fast forward into Corpse, we can read the good doctor’s notes. The notes are all about his experiments with resurrection. At first he experiments with animals of longevity (the tortoise, the tapeworms, the halfling-handed-luck-lizard), before he moves on to experimenting with un-dead (the DaLacey Twins), before finally realizing he can actually perfect resurrection through a combination of using giant body parts and powering a soul using the Mithral Coil. But who is he resurrecting?
(Say it with me now…)
Brandolyn Vintner, of course! He has been nefariously collecting her body parts over the years to perfect his resurrection ritual. She is never explicitly named in Corpse, but of course The Bride is the resurrected Brandolyn (namesake of Brandolyn Red). Savagely murdered in the wine press by her insanely jealous husband, she has been brought back to life 300 years after her human death by her secret elven lover.
When I originally wrote Brandolyn (and Corpse), I wanted to do something playful with the concept that Elves had such a much longer life span than humans. It made me think, how does that affect he attitudes of (relatively) short-lived humans? What if they wanted to marry? Is there racial prejudice?
In Corpse I wondered, “How would Brandolyn feel about being resurrected 300 years later?) In Brandolyn Red, she’s a tragic victim, in Corpse I wanted her to be a kick-ass foe pissed off that meddling PCs are once again getting in the way of her relationship with Lotrin.
So anyway – there’s your connections!
I could write a whole other article about the connections in Corpse to the novel Frankenstein. I will leave this one tidbit though: all the “doctor’s journals” left by Lotrin were re-written by me right before publication to use the verbs and sentence flow that Mary Shelley used in the novel. I even went through and made sure (as much as possible) that I only used expressions she used in her novel. There’s lots of other connections with character names.