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 Post subject: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:38 am 
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Okay, I'll get right to the point. This upcoming weekend, I'll be running a one-shot game. While the player have plenty of experience in other gaming systems, they've never seen TROS.

The theme was requested by one of the players -- he wanted to play a Cardinal's Guard. So, as this is a one-shot, I'll request them all to be the Guards. The Guards have always been just cannon fodder just in every incarnation of Dumas' novels. My one-shot is going to change that. So, the tagline of the game would be something like this:

"While the musketeers are running around hiding the indiscretions of their peers, the cardinal's guards do the real work." :mrgreen:

Now, finally to the reason I'm writing all this -- after seeing Michael's awesome take on the Seven Samurai, I have no wish to simply use the standard priority table as I was planning to do. :ugeek:

However, I'm not so inspired in the theme as I was in Dune for example, so, I'm looking for some suggestions.

First off, this isn't going to be your traditional "built around individual SAs" TROS game, but some mix between a traditional adventure and TROS. The players have no prior experience in using SAs and I don't think they'd want to hear a bunch of game theory and whatnot. So, my idea was to give them two SAs that are a MUST for everyone.

- Proud to be a Cardinal's Guard!
- I'm a catholic! OR I'm a huguenot!

The first is meant to represent the loyality to the cardinal Richelieu and the rivalries with the musketeers, with the second, I was hoping to put some religious tension and dilemmas in the group, but it seems that everyone will be picking the catholic side. Which is actually good, as it would suck to be mechanically penalised during the whole game if you're a huguenot and are fighting huguenots. Also, the latter SA would always apply when battling heretics or someone with opposed political views.

There is room for ONE other optional SA for every player, but it's not required. There simply isn't time for more small plots in a single night.

I've already heard 3 character concepts of the 4:
- the captain of the guards
- a deeply religious guard
- a crack shot with a musket

So, the game would start with the guards stumbling on an illegal duel conducted by some musketeers and I'll just have a fight with them to familiarise the players with the basics of the combat. Then there's some time for the wounds to heal and after the rolls are done, flashing news arrive that the most rights given to the huguenots by the Edict of Nantes have been revoked. Siege of La Rochelle ensues and the forts around the city form the main setting for the game. The characters are informed that of Buckinghams 100 ships that are attempting to invade the nearby Ile de Ré, a handful returned home almost immediately. It is also known from Richelieu's agents that the number of "missing" ships exactly correlates with the number of ships that sailed off from Englang carrying unusually large amount of gunpowder. So, where did the cargo go? Obviously, the gunpowder is used for the most cool project imaginable -- a plot to blow up part of the blockade around La Rochelle -- namely, the seawall -- which removed, would enable the English to reach the besieged city. So, in my version the Buckingham fails on Ile de Ré because he was never expecting to actually conquer that, but the preparations for blowing up the seawall just took too long... so the diversion, for the sake of looking authentic, developed into an actual siege.

The characters then search for the powder and if it is found, the king's brother Gaston, Duke of Orleans, enemy of Richelieu, will attempt to frame the guards for the plot and have them take the blame for it, thus damaging Richelieu. If they manage to outmaneuver Gaston and not being blown up... and there's still enough time left in the gaming night, they'll also be sent to collect the remaining powder, where a minor battle would ensue, involving Buckingham himself.

...

So, the three columns are obvious... Attributes, Skills & Proficiencies. I'd not think of adding the social class, but one of the characters is directly in command of the others and some mechanic should represent that. Gifts&Flaws... I'd rather keep them out -- I've not translated them yet, the variety is quite poor and I'd like the players to focus on the combat system and SAs instead. Any suggestions for two other columns? :)

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 Post subject: Re: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:43 am 
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higgins wrote:
Okay, I'll get right to the point. This upcoming weekend, I'll be running a one-shot game. While the player have plenty of experience in other gaming systems, they've never seen TROS.

...

So, the three columns are obvious... Attributes, Skills & Proficiencies. I'd not think of adding the social class, but one of the characters is directly in command of the others and some mechanic should represent that. Gifts&Flaws... I'd rather keep them out -- I've not translated them yet, the variety is quite poor and I'd like the players to focus on the combat system and SAs instead. Any suggestions for two other columns? :)


The Priority Table needs to focus on the key issues of the game.

Attributes, Skills, and Proficiencies deals with the bulk of the game as outlined as it is largely physical. I would add social via the ranks of Richelieu's Guard:
Captain is an A pick, a Recruit would be an F. This gives a pecking order within the playing group as well as conferring authority within a military scenario. The other element of the game is religious. Are you going to have a mystical element to the game at all? Or is religious affiliation quasi-political?

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 Post subject: Re: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:16 pm 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
Captain is an A pick, a Recruit would be an F.
I was thinking the same, but as there is a total of 150 guards, I'm not seeing an awful lot of variety in their ranks. Captain is the obvious choice, some lieutenants, sure, but as they are a unit of bodyguard, I really don't see them having ensigns, sergeants, corporals, etc and I don't see how those specific ranks would have much impact on the game anyway. :(

I think I might be adapting some form of reputation from Michael's Seven Samurai though.

Ian.Plumb wrote:
Are you going to have a mystical element to the game at all?
None.

Ian.Plumb wrote:
Or is religious affiliation quasi-political?
Yes, catholics are basically royalists, then there are non-political huguenots who simply practice their protestant beliefs and political huguenots who also hold views that a state shouldn't be centralised.

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 Post subject: Re: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:17 pm 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
Or is religious affiliation quasi-political?
higgins wrote:
Yes, catholics are basically royalists, then there are non-political huguenots who simply practice their protestant beliefs and political huguenots who also hold views that a state shouldn't be centralised.

If it’s a political matter, maybe introduce a “Connections”-column. At the lower picks, the character has a very close and rather compromising connection to an NPC of the opposing faith, with higher picks making the connection ever more distant, until it is nonexistant at A. The trick is that the connection is somebody the character really cares about, but somebody firmly in the political Huguenots’ camp.

That might make it harder for characters to follow a clear anti-Protestant course. And that’s just about the only thing that comes to my mind. :?

And I agree with Ian about using Social for rank within the guard.

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 Post subject: Re: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:43 pm 
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Grettir wrote:
If it’s a political matter, maybe introduce a “Connections”-column. At the lower picks, the character has a very close and rather compromising connection to an NPC of the opposing faith, with higher picks making the connection ever more distant, until it is nonexistant at A. The trick is that the connection is somebody the character really cares about, but somebody firmly in the political Huguenots’ camp.
Excellent idea! :)

Grettir wrote:
And I agree with Ian about using Social for rank within the guard.
Hmm... I agree too, but I don't see them having so much ranks. However, I don't want to spend time for purchasing the equipment, so, I'm thinking of putting the rank and the equipment in one. Say...

Prestige
A - captaincy plus three of latter: good horse, good firearms, good rapier, uniform of finest silk
B - three of latter: good horse, good firearms, good rapier, uniform of finest silk
C - one of latter: good horse, good firearms, good rapier, uniform of finest silk
D - standard equipment
E - one of latter: poor horse, poor firearms, poor rapier, ragged uniform
F - three of latter: poor horse, poor firearms, poor rapier, ragged uniform

* only one captaincy available

good/poor:
horse: fearless and fast/coward and slow
firearms: double range/half range
rapier: DR +1/ATN or DTN +1

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- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


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 Post subject: Re: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 3:45 pm 
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Connections:
A - You have no huguenots in the family nor among the friends, and a poweful catholic friend.
B - You have no huguenots in the family nor among the friends.
C - A person very close to your character is a huguenot OR you character has a powerful catholic enemy.
D - A person very close to your character is a huguenot AND you character has a powerful catholic enemy.
E - Several people very close to your character are huguenots AND the character has powerful catholic enemy.
F - Several people very close to your character are huguenots AND the character has powerful catholic enemy. Most catholics believe you to be a huguenot.

Hmm... Now I'm thinking how to have mechanical effects on this.

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"Brothels are a much sounder investment than ships, I've found. Whores seldom sink, and when they are boarded by pirates, why, the pirates pay good coin like everyone else."
- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


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 Post subject: Re: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:17 pm 
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higgins wrote:
Connections:

I think the connections will actually have a stronger impac on the game if it is only ever one connection to either religious party, but if the intensity of the connection is heightened. With F it might for instance be your Huguenot brother with whom you are still very close -- but who is wanted for heresy and for political activism.

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 Post subject: Re: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:02 pm 
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You're probably be right. Another attempt then.

A - No huguenot connections, no catholic enemies.
B - A huguenot aquaintance or childhood friend OR a citizen-level catholic enemy.
C - A huguenot distant relative or old friend OR a wealthy catholic enemy.
D - A huguenot relative or friend OR a influential catholic enemy.
E - A huguenot close relative or lover OR a catholic enemy belonging to the nobility.
F - A huguenot close relative or lover who is wanted by the crown OR a catholic enemy belonging to the royal family.

This has much better focus indeed. :)

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- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


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 Post subject: Re: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:40 pm 
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Darnit! I have five columns and six rows! :shock:

That means I'll have either to think of another category or fit my columns on ABCDE instead of ABCDEF. I'm doubtful if to set C to normal column to "average", or simply try to merge E & F. Or merging A & B. I'd so like to have three steps of good stuff and two steps of bad...

This is hard! :)

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"Brothels are a much sounder investment than ships, I've found. Whores seldom sink, and when they are boarded by pirates, why, the pirates pay good coin like everyone else."
- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


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 Post subject: Re: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:23 pm 
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higgins wrote:
Darnit! I have five columns and six rows! :shock:

Easy.

"There are five columns, each with six steps. You have a total of 16 steps to assign to the five columns. You must assign just one step to one column and a full six steps to another, but you can assign the remaining nine steps to the remaining three columns in any way you choose, provided you don't assign another one or six."

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 Post subject: Re: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:52 pm 
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I read that passage a dozen times or so and didn't understand a thing. :shock:

Anyway, here's my table. :)

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"Brothels are a much sounder investment than ships, I've found. Whores seldom sink, and when they are boarded by pirates, why, the pirates pay good coin like everyone else."
- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


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 Post subject: Re: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 7:18 pm 
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higgins wrote:
I read that passage a dozen times or so and didn't understand a thing. :shock:

:lol:

Ok. Suppose there are five columns, each with six "steps", named F through A. F is one step up, E is two steps up, D is three steps up, etc. In choosing Priorities, a player can go up a total of 16 steps, to be spread out through the five columns.

It is mandatory that he chooses one column where he will go up six steps (an A-pick) and a second one where he will go up only one step (an F-pick). This leaves him with nine more steps to be used on the remaining three columns, with the provision that he must neither spend a full six or only a single one on any of them -- only two to five steps per column are allowed (E through B-picks). He could go up three steps on every column (three D-picks), or two steps on two and five on one (two E- and one B-pick), or two, three and four on one each (an E-, D-, and C-pick), or some other combination amounting to a total of nine steps.

Got it?

In any case, I like your table with its 5/5 spread. :)

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 Post subject: Re: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:53 pm 
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Grettir wrote:
Ok. Suppose there are five columns, each with six "steps", named F through A. F is one step up, E is two steps up, D is three steps up, etc.
Ah, right. :)

In any case, the fourth character will be a charmer, one of the best physicians in France who is the mortal enemy of Gaston, Duke of Orleans. :)

I truely like how that table turned out, except that maybe the proficiencies should have been a bit higher as we're dealing with professional soldiers after all.

Thanks everyone for the input. :)

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- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


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 Post subject: Re: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:14 pm 
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higgins wrote:
Prestige
A - captaincy plus three of latter: good horse, good firearms, good rapier, uniform of finest silk
B - three of latter: good horse, good firearms, good rapier, uniform of finest silk
C - one of latter: good horse, good firearms, good rapier, uniform of finest silk
D - standard equipment
E - one of latter: poor horse, poor firearms, poor rapier, ragged uniform
F - three of latter: poor horse, poor firearms, poor rapier, ragged uniform


I like this! If I may make a suggestion, perhaps think of the table entries as mutually exclusive (that is, there is only one of each within the Guard). This will get the players talking about which positions as a group that they really need to occupy within the Guard.

Also, while the characters may all be Guard now, this table could reflect their military past. Did they come from the foot or the horse, the artillery or even the spahis perhaps? What rank did they hold before they were offered a position within the Guard? Soldat (soldier), Caporal (corporal), Sergent (sergeant), Adjudant (adjutant - NCO aspiring to become an officer), Aspirant (cadet officer), Sous Lieutenant (second lieutenant), Lieutenant (lieutenant), Capitaine (captain), Commandant (major), Colonel (colonel)? In which army did they serve in? Flanders, The Rhine, Italy, or The Pyrenees? Are they French? Or do they come from one of the elite military countries -- Weimarians, Hessians, Swedes, Hungarians?

So, perhaps a table along these lines:

Prestige:

A Capitaine: You are a Captain of Cardinal Richelieu's Guard. You have served in Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar's Weimarian Army. Family connections bought you a cadetship in the Gendarmes (heavy horse) -- an ability to learn, an iron will, and a clear aptitude for command saw you promoted to Captain. You returned to France to serve in The Army of the Rhine. First Minister Cardinal Richelieu's attempts to reform the army along the lines of the Swedish army were resisted at every turn by the aristocracy -- yet your experience had taught you that reform was necessary. Your efforts to implement reform brought you to the attention of your commander. You soon received an invitation to join the Cardinal's Guard -- while welcome, you understood that this was as much an invitation to leave as an invitation to join.

B Sous-Lieutenant
You were a Sous-Lieutenant in the Army of Flanders, a member of the carabins (mounted musketeers). You have a reputation for exceptional bravery under fire. Since joining the Guard you much prefer the term Carabin as Musketeer has unfortunate associations. You are a good horseman and an excellent shot, skilled in the maintenance and use of all gunpowder hand weapons.

C Adjudant
You were an Adjutant in the Army of the Rhine. Ten years of service brought you to the point where you were permitted to attempt to join the officer corps. With no money and no connections you remained there for a further five years, coming to the understanding that you would never be promoted. With the arrival of a young Captain (Priority Pick A) you found yourself assigned to him -- a humorous joke on the part of your superiors. The man was full of new ideas, in particular the removal of aristocratic connections, privilege, and precedence in the administration of the army. It was like speaking with the First Minister himself. Before you could truly prove yourself to him he was gone, transferred to Cardinal Richelieu's Guard no less. Four months later a letter arrived, requesting that you join the Guard. It turned out that you had indeed proved yourself. As an Adjutant you have great skill in logistics and administration, are highly organized, have a sound knowledge of who's who within various battalions and armies, and are well connected to other Adjutants and Sergeants.

D Caporal
You are a corporal in Cardinal Richelieu's Guard. You are responsible for ten soldiers. You were a chevau-légers (or light horseman) in the Army of the Pyrenees. You speak Spanish fluently. You are a superb horseman, accustomed to riding long distances over difficult terrain. You also served in the Army of Italy before joining Cardinal Richelieu's Guard.

E Soldat
You are a soldier in Cardinal Richelieu's Guard. You served in the Army of Italy as an artilleryman, part of the cavalry. You have great experience with gunpowder and artillery. A quirk of fate has brought you into the Cardinal's Guard; a far easier life than that of an artilleryman.

F Soldat
You are a foot soldier in Cardinal Richelieu's Guard. You have a checkered past much of which is not known to your superiors (you hope). You had wealthy middle class parents with business interests in New France (Canada) -- but that was all a long time ago. In your late teens and early 20s you led a profligate life, spending much more than your allowance provided. Your companions were drunkards and whores. You liked to gamble, which led to debts and unpayable loans. This in turn led to working for a loan shark; a life of crime. When an attempt to collect a debt went badly wrong your father managed to get you on a ship to Port Royal in New France -- and waiting at the other end was a name change and a commission. Through a knack for working with the natives you served with distinction. After ten years you resigned your commission and returned to France -- with a letter of recommendation from your commander, addressed to the Colonel of Cardinal Richelieu's Guard. You have picked up some of the native language as well as the native martial art of Savate. You are a survivor, well able to cope in a bad situation and able to make the best of a difficult situation. You are very familiar with the ways of those who live on the fringe of society.

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: The Cardinal's Guards
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:31 pm 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
I like this! If I may make a suggestion, perhaps think of the table entries as mutually exclusive (that is, there is only one of each within the Guard). This will get the players talking about which positions as a group that they really need to occupy within the Guard.
Thanks! BTW I renamed the table Assets to better reflect its contents. But your idea... if would definitely give the game some A-teamish feel if that's desired.

Pick one of latter: a sturdy van, a helicopter, a bottomless disguise kit, the sexiest haircut on the planet :lol:

This is definitely something to keep in mind on the future games. :)

Ian.Plumb wrote:
Also, while the characters may all be Guard now, this table could reflect their military past. (...) So, perhaps a table along these lines:
Wow, that's an excellent, very inspiring writeup. :) It has little mechanical effect, but it definitely sets a tone for character. However its greatest asset is also it's greatest weakness... it is so full of wonderful detail, but players would usually want to customise it. That is, unless you run a pick-up game. So, if I'm going to some convention and decide to re-run my adventure, I'm soooo putting this column in. :) With the portraits to add even more detail. I'd never have thought TROS could be modified to be a pick-up game. :)

Right now however, I'm simply having to scrounge it for ideas to offer the players as they've already submitted me the basic concepts they are interested in playing. :|

With the exquisite detail, however, I'm having trouble making suggestions on how the medical character ended up in the Richelieu's guard. He's an MA7, Medicine TN5 character specialising in bullet wounds. Well, that doesn't strike me as some common army butch...uhm, surgeon. :) I thought that he may have been a doctor who has helped various Richelieu's agents in the past and he's good enough to be his personal doctor. I have however... been unable to suggest a convincing reason why a physician of such quality should also be a guard. :(

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- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


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