Advantages

The core rules for Flashing Blades include nine possible Advantages; the house rules for Le Ballet de l’Acier provide three additional Advantages: Heirloom, Good Name, and Member of a Guards Company.

Title
A Title held by a Noble character provides a significant increase to the character’s Social Rank as well as additional annual income, representing stipends or annuities associated with the Title. A Title does not confer any special rights to land or offices, however. It could be that the Title belongs to an impoverished noble family and no longer possesses estates, offices, and sinecures originally associated with the Title, or the character could also be a robe noble who purchased the Title outright, rather than inheriting it from a parent or other relative. A Title gained through an Advantage may represent a courtesy title for the child of a nobleman; with the Gamemaster’s consent, the player may opt for a lower Title for the character and inherit the higher Title later in the game on the passing of the character’s parent. A character’s background should include a note on how the character came by his or her title; the Gamemaster may provide some additional details as well.

Note that characters who gain a title during the game do not automatically receive additional yearly income; this is a benefit associated with the Title Advantage.

Wealth
As noted in the core rules, the source of a character’s Wealth “may be completely secret, or it may be dividends from wise family investments, a rich uncle, inheritances,” or so on. Wealth may represent an annuity on a loan made to the royal government, for example, a royal pension, or a sinecure held by a noble family. A character with a Secret Loyalty may receive additional yearly Wealth from that source. A character may be a remittance man (or woman), receiving support from a family abroad; another sort of remittance man is the rake paid to stay away from a young woman by her family – such a character is a good candidate for the Don Juan Secret! A character’s background should include some mention of the source(s) of the character’s yearly income.

Land
A character with the Soldier background may seem unlikely to possess a chateau, but it’s possible, if rare, for those of relatively humble origins to purchase significant estates. Possessing land does not confer nobility or a title or special privileges, except as noted in the house rules. The additional annual income provided by the Land Advantage may represent rents due the character or revenue generated by the property itself. The Land Advantage is assumed to include furnishings and a staff, which is in turn paid for by the character’s monthly costs. Staff may be as simple as a cook, a valet, and a couple of maids or it may respresent a household of several dozen, as determined by both the land owned by the character and the character’s Social Rank and annual expenditures. The player and the Gamemaster may determine the details as needed during the game.

Contact and Favor
As described in the house rules for Le Ballet de l’Acier, a Social Rank is generated for a character’s Contact or Favor. Contacts tend to be of a lower Social Rank than non-player characters who owe Favors, but Contacts provide continuing, if less infuential, assistance to the character while a Favor may be called upon just once. A Contact “will aid the character in times of need,” so a useful Contact is one who can provide advice or introductions, or advocate on behalf of the character. A Contact will usually provide assistance without expectation of service in return, other than the character’s discretion, of course, so the relationship is not typically that of a patron and client; a Contact may be a distant relative or a family friend, for example, or perhaps a former tutor or professor, or a clergyman from the character’s youth. A Contact will do all that can reasonably be done on behalf of the character, even accepting some measure of risk, but a Contact’s resources and connections should not be presumed to be unlimited.

A character may accrue a Favor after providing some important service on behalf of another; in the case of the Favor Advantage, the specific nature of this service should be briefly described in the character’s background. The non-player character who owes the Favor will bring all available resources to bear to aid the character as needed, but once the Favor is granted, “the NPC is free of all obligation – and may even retaliate in some small way if the request were [sic] too great.” In other words, a Favor may be offered only grudgingly if fulfilling the obligation strains the non-player character’s resources or relationships or otherwise compromises the non-player character’s position.

An extensive list of non-player characters is available for Le Ballet de l’Acier; if a player cannot find a suitable Contact or source for a Favor from the characters provided, the player and the Gamemaster will work to develop one.

Double
A Double may be a family member – a twin sibling, a cousin, or the like – or the Double may simply be a chance resemblance to another character. The player and the Gamemaster will work together to determine the nature of the Double.

Gentleman’s Lackey/Lady’s Maid
Though many characters may have servants during their lives, what set’s apart a Gentleman’s Lackey or Lady’s Maid is extraordinary loyalty to the character – they cannot be persuaded, bribed or suborned to harm the character’s person or reputation, as long as the lacky or maid is reasonably well-treated, at least by the standards of the time. A lackey or maid may have a useful skill or two, at the discretion of the Gamemaster.

Member of an Order
A Club or Order of which the character is a member may provide general assistance to the character; members may advise the character, make introductions on his behalf, and so on in a manner similar to that of a Contact.

Renaissance Man
A Renaissance Man is often highly respected by others and may develop a reputation as a polymath. However, some may be jealous of the Renaissance Man’s abilities . . .

Heirloom
An Heirloom item may be recognizible: “Surely you remember my father’s sword, monsieur le marquis?” The player should include a brief description of how the item became an heirloom in the character’s background.

Good Name
A Good Name is closely connected with a character’s honorable behavior; a character who behaves dishonorably may find that his Good Name becomes Ill Favored in short order. In an age where communication is limited to the speed of travel, it may seem that such a reputation would spread slowly, but this is also a time of conversation, and in particular gossip; good and bad news spreads rapidly despite, or perhaps because of, the limits of technology. A player should include a brief description of how the character’s family achieved its Good Name in the character’s background.

Member of a Guard’s Company
Members of a Guard’s Company are often referred to as “cadets,” as they are often the junior members of a family who will not inherit much. Quite often guardsmen go on to become officers of other companies and regiments due to the slow advancement in rank of the Guards and Horse Guards companies.

Advantages

Le Ballet de l'Acier Black_Vulmea