Campaign of the Month: August 2011
Le Ballet de l'Acier
Many of the Secrets involve non-player characters. An extensive list of non-player characters is available for Le Ballet de l’Acier; if a player cannot find a suitable example from the characters provided, the player and the gamemaster will work to develop one. The gamemaster may also provide information on factions or secret societies, where appropriate.
As described in the core rules, the exact nature of the object of Sworn Vengeance is determined by the player and the gamemaster together. There are many possible reasons for seeking vengeance. Blood feuds between families, sometimes dating back centuries, are quite common in 17th century France, for example; the object of one’s Sworn Vengeance may mean nothing to the character individually but is simply the heir to the on-going feud between rivals. The reason for Sworn Vengeance may be very personal, on the other hand, such as a grave insult to one’s reputation or an outrage committed against a family member, perhaps involving a social or political rival.
A duelist’s heightened sense of personal honor may compel the character to defend his reputation from perceived slights; such a character may exhibit a prickly temperment, or the character may be sanguine, even fatalistic.
A Blackmailed character may be forced to pay a portion of his yearly allowance to the blackmailer, or the blackmailer may attempt to use the character as a source of information or compel the character to perform tasks on the blackmailer’s behalf; these tasks may range from the banal to the dangerous, depending on the blackmailer. The player and the gamemaster will develop the reason for the blackmail together; perhaps the player committed a crime in his youth, or is protecting a family member’s reputation. Should the blackmailer expose the character for any reason, it is likely that the character will be treated as Ill Favored (q.v.) henceforth.
A Compulsive Gambler may be prone to risk-taking in many areas of his life, not just at the gaming table, such as betting one can woo a noblewoman or win a duel with no more than three strokes of his sword. Compulsive gamblers may offer unsual stakes, such as betting one’s mistress or family lands.
As noted in the core rulebook, a Secret Loyalty can be to an individual, but it may also be to a group such as a family, a political faction, or a secret society. A character with a Secret Loyalty to an individual is often a client or créature of a powerful personage, one who may be able to extend protection to the character in exchange for service; however, this protection may not be available should the secret connection between the character and the person or group be exposed – it’s possible that the character may be utterly disavowed if the relationship would harm the reputation or position of the individual or group.
Code of Honor
A Code of Honor pairs well with a number of Advantages. A character with a Code of Honor who is owed a Favor may have once spared another’s life or protected someone from the actions of a third party. Code of Honor and Good Name fit hand-in-glove with one another; such a paragon of virtue may be seen as a reincarnation of one of Charlemagne’s paladins!
A Secret Identity is distinct from a Secret Loyalty in a couple of ways. First, a character with a Secret Identity may be loyal to no one but himself, such as a highwayman or a masked avenger. Second, while a character with a Secret Loyalty simply acts as himself but conceals his motives and relationships, a character with a Secret Identity maintains a more complicated charade, possessing an alter ego or even living a literal double life. Pairing a Secret Identity with the Advantage Double could represent a character who serves as a body double for an important personage.
While the description of a Religious Fanatic in the core rules suggests that “blasphemous . . . ceremonies or comments” may send a character into “a rage,” this vitrioloic reaction need not lead to violence; an impassioned harangue or an impromptu sermon may be more appropriate, as may leaving the immediate situation indignantly. This can be very important in dealing with other player characters who don’t share the Religious Fanatic’s confessional ties.
Characters with the Don Juan or Jezebel Secret may exibit very different behavior toward the opposite sex. Some may treat women or men with callous disregard, as objects to be manipulated for pleasure or social attainment; others may be hopeless romantics enamored of the ideals of courtly love.
Debt of Honor
A Debt of Honor is a Favor owed to a non-player character by the player character. The player and the gamemaster will work out the specifics of the debt and the requirements for it to be repayed. A character who repays a Debt of Honor may earn a Good Name, at the gamemaster’s discretion, if the debt is significant and the person or persons involved public figures with good reputations of their own.
Characters who are Ill Favored may suffer from disadvantages when attempting to enter or advance in their careers. The player and the gamemaster must determine the source of the character’s ill favor and establish a set of conditions for restoring the character’s reputation and that of his family.