Strangefinder: Marlowe House

Strangefinder Modern are modern ideas for a strange urban fantasy world that could be played using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Anachronistic Adventures.

Marlowe House

Strangefinders have existed for centuries, possibly since the advent of thought (as though leads to sub-quantum harmonics which can lead to Alterniversal incursions). Or they may predate thought, taking forms that don’t require sentience or sapience. Really, how would we know?

What we DO know is that many old legends are echoes of both Strangefinder activities, and faded memories of Alterniversal incursions which may have brought along their own legends and myths. Perhaps King Arthur WAS real, but was a great kind from another Alterniverse (we can call it Avalon), and thus his passing lead to all hard evidence of his existence fading.

However, some Strangefinder activities DO leave evidence behind, at least for those who know how to look for it. One such tangible element is Marlowe House, a gathering place for Strangefinders, and sometimes a training ground, library, armory, bazaar, and refuge.

Marlowe House dates back to the 1580s, when the noted Freemason, cabalist, writer, and Strangefinder Christopher Marlowe discovered great and terrible Alterniversal incursions overlapping vast sections of England. More a poet than a warrior, Marlowe had the keen intellect and broad imagination needed to recognize and an analyze manifestations of incursions. He then had others defeat any active threat, and worked to design plays and poems to act as counter-harmonic rituals. When such matters were insufficient, he designed strong measures (such as having the calendar changed).

While Marlowe and his agents were not great warriors, Marlowe DID have an amazing knack for discovering the weakness of incursion manifestations, and designing counter-harmonics to ensure they remained contained. In time other Strangefinders, such as Ivan Fyodorov, Oyamada Nobushige (after his supposed death at the hands of his Oda clan allies), Thomas Heriot, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and even occasionally Sir Francis Drake and John Dee, began to turn to Marlowe for his expertise in researching and analyzing incursions. Where helpful, Marlowe often put such groups in touch with one another.

Sadly, the rash of manifestations he fought off was a plot under the control of a powerful Strangemaster, who eventually managed to have Marlowe killed.

It turned out, this was an event Marlowe had foreseen.

The main work of producing dramaturgical works to hold Strange incursions at bay was adopted by new playwrights, beginning immediately after Marlowe’s death. The work of bringing Strangefinders together also continued, in the form of Marlowe House.

Marlowe House is a place, but not a single place. It is a theoretical place, a Strange incursion in its own right that Marlowe tamed rather than defeated. It is one part vast library, one part dark alleys, and one part cozy kitchen. In the earliest days, Marlowe House could most easily be reached through the back corners of playhouses. Those who had great need, and knew of the Strange or carried something touched by it, could duck beneath a backdrop, squeeze between two props, or dash into a black corner, and find themselves in the Marlowe House’s sitting-room/armory.

There, one of more Keepers (often a family) would see to immediate needs (Strangefinders entering the House for the first time and by accident were often bleeding, poisoned, or slowly turning into mushrooms), and inquire about longer-term plans. Marlowe House is not a charity–the Keepers will grant each entrant one unpaid boon. After that they are happy to hear about what a Strangefinder is working on, and put them in touch with other Strangefinders who might help. More substantial aid, such as using the Restricted Library, or buying some magic, psychic, or weirdtech item, must be met with ideas or objects of similar value.

Many Strangefinders drop off largely harmless materials from incursions at the Marlowe house, to be kept safe and possibly studied. This includes plays, books, and even movies from other Alterniverses. The 1200s catalog of the Great Library of Alexandria. The original Kubla Khan. Mag’s Diversion. Collections of Edgar Allen Poe’s work from his 50s and 60s.

Those visitors who come to be trusted friends to Marlowe House can also beg sanctuary for 24 hours once each lunar month. Of course, trusted friends often drop by just to meet with colleagues, update the keepers on ongoing investigations, and possibly enjoy the David Lynch version of The Empire Strikes Back.

While sections of Marlowe house are still styled after the 1500s, it’s changed and updated over the centuries. It has been accessed through public houses, speakeasies, head shops, abandoned libraries, and video rental stores. Anytime a new generation of Strangefinders change where they seek Strange lore, and society alters where is expects to find weirdos, Marlowe House becomes accessible through new means. And each time, it’s interior takes on some small part of the character of those entrances.

Currently the Marlowe House has a strong focus on video rental stores, tabletop roleplaying games, and knitting. It’s Keepers are kind and friendly folk, but fierce in the defense of their friends and allies. They delight in having known visitors drop by, and bemoan they don’t get to see enough of their friends as often as they’d like.

Marlowe House is a nexus for Strangefinders, and a GM can use it to advance a stuck plot whenever she wishes.

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About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on August 16, 2016, in Adventure Design, Adventure Sketch, Anachronistic Adventurers, Microsetting, Pathfinder Development and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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