Monday, January 14, 2013

Gaming is Good

Pop quiz, hotshot. What do Santa Claus, Vito Corleone, and Emperor Palpatine have in common?

I channeled all of them while roleplaying Cardinal Richelieu on Saturday night.

This was the first chance I had to first-person roleplay His Eminence in our campaign, and wow, what a rush! First came Santa Claus. Riordan O'Neill, King's Musketeer, spotted a tail following him shortly after his return to Paris, and the next day he and his travelling companion, formerly Huguenot but recently converted doctor Guillaume Sébastien were rounded up by a contingent of the Cardinal's Guards and escorted to the Louvre for an interview with the Cardinal. The prelate sat, stroking a cat in his lap - which got a laugh for its Blofed-ness - as he first offered the doctor a commission as a médecin ordinaire du roi, one of the king's physicians, which the doctor accepted quickly. Next it was the soldier's turn, as His Eminence dangled an ensign's commission in his Guards. Riordan was sorely tempted but in the end he turned it down, even in the face of blackmail over a duel he fought a year ago in a Parisian alley.

After the Musketeer was dismissed, I got to pull out Vito Corleone - 'I may call upon you for a service' - and Emperor Palpatine as I broke down the doctor's resistance to spying at court for the Cardinal. Guillaume is genuinely conflicted over his character's religion and sincere in bridging the divide between his former and present co-religionists - and this produced some truly inspired roleplaying - and the Cardinal used this to insure the doctor's submission.

I also got to see how well one of my house rules worked in actual play as well as put 'rulings, not rules' into action. Player characters in my campaign may earn gloire (glory) dice, which are applied to openings and promotions in the various career paths open to the characters. Riordan earned two gloire dice, one for being decorated on campaign, the other for participating in the cavalry duel with Imperial soldiers at Casale. A roll of 10+ on 2D6 is normally required both an opening and a promotion from sergeant to ensign in the Musketeers in my campaign, so Riordan's player got to roll three dice instead. He cruised on the first roll with a fifteen, but only managed a nine on the second; after thinking about it for a moment, he asked if serving as cornet in Challons' company was worth a bonus, and I agreed that his brevet rank was worth a +1 to the roll, so he got his commission. This was something I'd contemplated as a house rule previously, and now I'm going to make it so, but with a slight twist - more about that another time.

I left my iPad at home, so I ran the game wiki-free for a change. I'm a little startled sometimes at how good my memory for the campaign background is - the only npc name I couldn't remember was Riordan's old landlady, and I improvised a pair of random encounters on the road home.

Finally, this was the first time in over a year the three of us were in the same room together to play. Playing over Skype is good enough, but face-to-face is better.

Now the two are off to Fontainebleau, to join the Musketeers' company and the king's court, respectively.

Gaming is good.


  1. Wonderful. I've resolved to run FB this year. Kicking the year off like this is encouraging to me.

  2. Mike,

    Nice to see that you are back playing again. I've been waiting to hear what happens next. I like the way you played Richelieu. I recall him having cats in one of the Silent Fairbanks films, and had not realized that the real Cardinal was an ailurophile.

    The glorie dice mechanic sounds very interesting as a way of rewarding characters for certain kinds of success. I have a few questions if you'd be so kind as to explain.

    1) Riordan used 1 glorie die to modify the chance of an opening and the second die to modify the chance for promotion, right?

    2) Could he have used 2 glorie dice on one of opening or promotion instead?

    3) Could he save the glorie dice for a later use?

    4) Do the glorie dice take the place of the automatic promotions such as those that are handed out as rewards in the published adventures or do you use both*?

    * Obviously Richelieu provided a promotion without a roll to Guillaume, but I assume that was intended to be part of a quid pro quo to make Guillaume an agent of the Cardinal rather than a reward for success or services rendered.


    1. 1. Correct - one die for each of the two rolls.

      2. No - only one gloire die can be used per roll for entrance, opening or promotion.

      3. Yes - they don't expire.

      4. No, I'll still use automatic promotions as rewards; the gloire dice are more a measure of notoriety and reputation.

      After the interview with the Cardinal was over, Riordan's player said that if he'd been offered a lieutenancy instead, he probably would've taken it. I replied, 'So we know Riordan's integrity is for sale, now we're just haggling over the price.'

    2. Thanks for the explanation. I may want to use that for promotions and such in my Honor + Intrigue game. Since H+I does bonus/penalty dice a bit differently* I may follow the H&I model while allowing players to use more than one die.

      * All rolls are 2d6. A bonus die lets you roll an exta die, but you still only add two dice, you just select the two highest dice.

      Being tempted by a lieutenancy seems in keeping with Cape & Sword. Also, from what I've read Riordan is the only PC who is a King's Musketeer, so Riordan doesn't have D'Artagnan's issue of all his friends being Musketeers while his enemies all seem to work for the Cardinal.

  3. Sounds like a great session. I wish there were a Google+ On Air hangout video where I could check out your Cardinal-duc Santa Corleone Palpatine Blofeld de Richelieu.

  4. I hope to read about it on OP! I also wish that there was video.

    1. I have four adventure logs to catch up on this week . . .

  5. So quit hanging out on RPGnet and start writing. ;-)


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