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Flashing Blades: Careers for Rogues

Flashing Blades is a marvelous game but it does have one notable imbalance – while noblemen, gentlemen and soldiers have a a lot of support in careers the guttersnipe ‘rogue’ background has no such support in the rules. This seems a little unfair, and even thinking back to the when I played the game as a teenager the rogue class never got much of a look in.

As my current campaign has a Rogue in the form of Antoine I thought it best to give him such a structure. I have steered away from the moral unpleasantness of running bawdy houses and focused on crimes which feature opportunities for adventure hooks and drama without such tawdriness. I have also chosen to use the King of Thieves who features in the ‘Man behind the Mask’ scenario we have run.

highwayman

A rogue making money from criminal activity can either:

  • be Affiliated  the character pays his dues to the King of Thieves, making the income as per the table below but they can accrue criminal rank and only risk detection from the authorities.
  • be Freelances the character is not party to the King of Thieves’ organisation and makes three times the money displayed on the table below but must roll an additional roll for detection every month from the King of Thieve’s agent.

Unusually income is based on months – and each month a perpetrator must roll for detection by victim or the authorities and if Freelance also by the King of Thieves, This is done as a skill check which if failed (automatic on a natural 20) results in a combat encounter I will discuss on the relevant table.  A criminal pc may surrender on detection (or if wounded, knocked out by opponents) and subject to trail as per page 44-45 of the rules.

If the same criminal activity is carried out for more than one month in the year each time it is repeated the following month is the detection check is reduced by 1.

If the criminal is a master in any skill they may only make one detection roll for each the victim/authorities and the King of Thieves a year no matter how many they carry out the crime. A master superior may only roll for detection from the authorities or the king of thieves (and if affiliated need not roll for detection at all.)

Criminal Occupation Earnings ( a month) Chance of detection (a month) Pre-Requisites
Cut-Purse Cut-pursue+ Luck x 2d6 Check v Cut-Pursue + ½ luck Cut Purse
Burglary Fine Manipulation+Luck x 2d6 Check v Fine Manipulation + ½ luck Fine Manipulation
Highway Robbery Horsemanship+Firearms x2d6 Check v average horsemanship/firearms Horsemanship, Firearms
Smuggling Bribery + Luck x (1-5 depending on foreign commerce) Check v Bribery + 1/2 Luck Bribery
Contract Murder Victim Social Rank x 50L Check v Stealth – Victim Social Rank Stealth
Underboss 1d6 Hirlings Yearly check v Captaincy + 5 Criminal Rank 5, Captaincy
Boss 6 + 1d6 Hirlings Yearly check v Captaincy + 10 Criminal Rank 10, Captaincy
Overboss 12 + 1d6 Hirings Yearly check v Captaincy + 15 Criminal Rank 15, Captaincy

Note other backgrounds (gentlemen, nobleman, soldier) can carry out crimes but they must be unaffiliated.

By way of explanation Smuggling does not necessary refer to international trade as France has many internal trade barriers. For ease though I shall use the Foriegn Commerce table from the banking rules on page 37 of the rules to generate a rating of ( very poor (1) to very good (5)) to inform the income from smuggling in a particular year.

Smugglers at Rye

Criminal Rank for every 500 L earned from a criminal career in a year (not adventures) 1 point of criminal rank is gained but is not permanent, so can ebb and flow as income raises and falls. It does not raise expenses or taxes like social rank. The King of Thieves rank have ‘pretentions’ titles which they indulge in and use with each other out of respect.

Criminal Rank Pretention
1
2
3 Trooper
4 Sergeant
5 Lieutenant Underboss
6 Captain
7 Master
8 Major
9 Colonel
10 Baron Boss
11 Viscount
12 Count
13 Marquis
14 Duke
15 Archduke Overboss
16 Grandduke
17 Prince
18 Grand Prince
19
20 King of Thieves Boss of Bosses

If a criminal is detected by the authorities or the King of thieves roll on the table below.

Detection Table City Crime Country Crime (Highway/Smuggling) Murder King of Thieves
1 A armed gentleman A armed gentleman A armed gentleman 1d6 Thugs
2 A skilled armed gentlemen A skilled armed gentlemen A skilled armed gentlemen 2d6 Thugs
3 1d3 City Guards 1d6 Coach Guards 1d6 Thugs 1d6 Swordsmen
4 1d6 City Guards 1d6 Dragoons 1d6 Swordsmen 2d6 Swordsmen
5 1d6 Musketeers/Cardinals Guards 2d6 Dragoons 2d6 Swordsmen Assassin
6 Something ingenious Something ingenious Something ingenious Ingenious

armed gentlemen  is a sword wielding man with initial player character level of skill.

skilled armed gentlemen  has expertise 14 with dueling weapons.

Thugs  are club wielding bravos expertise 12 intending to give a PC a friendly beating (but might kill them in the process.)

Swordsmen have expertise 12 and armed with rapiers, longswords or sabers

City Guards are polearm armed heavily armoured and have their regimental skills to expertise 13 Dragoons have all their armour except helmets and have expertise 13 in firearms and cavalry style Musketeers/Cardinals Guards have regimental skills to expertise 15 and are in classic Dumas ‘light order’ of dueling weapons.

Assassin is expertise 17 in firearms and at least one dueling style. Also skilled in poisons and will potentially attack from ambush.

Ingenious Could be anything – savate trained nuns, a coach filled with gunpowder, you’ve just picked the pocket of a leper……

 

 

 

 

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Pink Gins & Googlies: the Pre-Gens

Some pre-gen ideas for Pink Gins & Googlies (‘Pink Gins and Googlies’ is the working title for a pulp episodic campaign based all the players characters being players of Cranford Ladies College old girls cricket tour of the Empire and United States .)

Abigal ‘Smasher’ Flashard wiry greyhound like former old girl 23 and a st trinians gym mistress – currently on furlough after her re-creation of the Battle of Nasby with the lower 4th lead to the local hunts hounds being stampeded through the village flower and produce show and 9 girls being arrests for assault against the local constabulary. Left arm medium bowler and left arm bat all rounder.

Deborah Carstairs-Lomax old girl 27 6 foot tall with the profile of Teutonic goddess and strongest backhand in the Home Counties. Former Girlfriend of Biggle’s friend Algy she is a commuted aviatrix and somewhat fearful of becoming an old maid. Right hand expressive temperamental middle order barswoman.

Contessa Florence di Lenichello

Daughter of the former cook at Cranford Ladies College turned Liverpool showgirl who turned the head of an Italian Naval officer who was in port. Turned out he was an only an Italian count and besotted they were married. She is now a patron of the College. Her and the Count maintain somewhat separate lives her between London, Liverpool and Monaco and his Rome, the Sea and the family estate meeting for passionate weekends and fights a couple of times a year. The Contessa has picked up some skills from her time on the stage and is either a skilled cold reader or has some natural talents. Deceptive right arm wrist spin.

Aunt Agatha Gregson an Aunt of Bertie Wooster, ‘the nephew crusher’ ” the ones who chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth. 5’9″ of Aunt Agatha, topped off with a beaky nose, an eagle eye, and a bit of grey hair, and the General aspect is pretty formidable.” Blocking opening right arm bats woman in the boycott mode.

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Flashing Blades: 1623 The Haunted Villa (part un)

Jean the Banker of the Cauldroneers is rewarded with an antique longsword for his work on a contract. Polishing it he notices a loose pommel and with in is some cryptic clues dated 1597 written by Viscount de Gabriel promising wealth to his descendants.

Pooling the research expertise of the team – Joesph and Baron Sordeau’s Court contacts, Antoine underworld knowledge, Jean’s bureaucracy and the Baron’s knowledge of church records they uncover the following:

  • The Viscount was a strategist in service of Henri IV, a sadist given to games of cat and mouse
  • He was arrested in 1596 and executed in 1598 for treachery in service of the perfidious English
  • His lands and title where forfeit except for a villa granted his widow – its lies abandoned since her death.
  • The abandoned villa has been raided by villains several times but no rogues have ever returned from such burglary.
  • The only survivor of his line, is his grand-nephew Victor De Gabriel – interred as a lunatic to the care of Dominican brothers in 1619 but escaped in 1621.

They travel to the villa. Following a clue they find a ring in the base of a garden statue of a Roman god and despite Antonine suffering injury in a tiger trap hidden in a maze they get a set of keys of a statue of Pan in a hedge maze. They find in the tiger trap a tunnel leading to the villa.

Antonine carries out reconnaissance and escapes being killed by a crossbow trap in the wine cellar. The rest of the party joins him. Uncovering rough ground they find small sealed cases of gunpowder and a silver case containing red spectacles.

What wealth lies in the villa? Will the Cauldroneers survive ? Who will be foiled by these meddling swordsmen ?

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Pink Gins & Googlies: The Practicalities & a call for players

Writing recently about my 1920s Ladies cricket tour pulp game has got me thinking.

When originally muted I got a fair amount of interest from Grognards on Twitter and also down my local club.

Now I had thought of running it twice but I very much see this as an episodic game knocking off dedicated scenarios while I continue to run flashing blades on Skype & Pendragon PBEM.

There’s practically difficulties running down the club – every GM has a couple of games they want to run and young kids mean I frequently get their late which means I don’t want to hog a slot.

However I might get the occasional pass but an infrequent weekend ‘late nighter’, skype would probably be the way to go

But if you go with a consistent party scheduling can become a nightmare. But why do I need a consistent party…..?

A touring cricket team has at least 11 players plus in all likelihood a tour manageress and possible dependants.

Therefore my idea is the following – recruit players from multiple sources have them roll PCs – also have Pre-Gens for drop ins & casualties but for particularly scenarios (‘tour dates’) there is no set party it’s whatever player’s characters are available for that session.

Depending on player preference I’ll need some form of group, email list and/or for communication and co-ordination

But right now I just need to start a list of players so if your interested please email dissecting Worlds (all one word) AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk with

  • Your name
  • How we know each other (I probably won’t recognise the email.)
  • Any character idea – the tourists are former lady pupils of a Cheshire ladies college/ finishing school (in the town Cranford )
  • Any system preference at the moment I’m torn between Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes, Pulp Cthulhu, GURPS and Gangbusters.
  • If you care about the cricket element what role you see the character performing on the team. (If you don’t care, don’t worry.)

I won’t be looking to run the first game till the Summer at the earliest but think now is the time to sort logistics.

A word on cricket

The game will focus on pulp adventures between matches however I will work out the results of the cricket games between roleplaying sessions using either howzatt, pocket cricket or Run Chase donated to me by Andrew at Grogmeet.

Those who want to get use this as roleplaying fuel ( ” well Agatha you wouldn’t be in such a foul move if you hadn’t dropped that crucial catch when we played the Bombay Widows and Orphans Trust First XI”) can and those who have no interest in that element can ignore it.

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Pink Gins & Googlies : a Pulp Appendix N

‘Pink Gins and Googlies’ is the working title for a pulp episodic campaign based all the players characters being players of Cranford Ladies College old girls cricket tour of the Empire and United States .

So far I plan mysteries involving Egyptian curses, obscure cults, dope dealers, smugglers, nefarious reds and beastly Huns as the tour covers matches in Cairo, Aden, Mumbai, Colombo, Singapore, Perth, Sydney, Wellington, Hollywood and the Hamiltons.

Pre Gens likely to include a St Trinian’s gym (and history) mistress, one of Bertie Wooster’s aunts, an Italian countess with obscure powers, a Worrals of the WAAF type aviatrix and a miss marple pastiche.

Talking on line with folks looking at inspirational reading for Pulp Cthulhu I thought it might be useful to pull together an Appendix N of the material I’ve been reading or watching (or is on my acquire list) for this project. Appendix N of the Dungeon Masters Guide being Gary Gygax’s compendium of sources which inspired him writing AD&D.

To quote Gygax ” in some cases I cite specific works, in others, I simply recommend all of their fantasy writing to you.” The rider of course is many of these were written in earlier reductionist times with attitudes to race, class, gender and faith which are deeply problematic for modern readers. I personally think you can take things from the work while acknowledging and leaving out (or subverting or challenging) the problematic elements in a game but that’s a personal decision.

APPENDIX N

Dennis Wheatley, in particular the Duc Richelieu stories and the satanic horror ones (which do overlap such as in ‘the Devil rides Out’ which has a fine Hammer adaptation.)

Captain WE Johns, the Biggles stories as well as Worrals (lady biggles), Steely and Gimlet. A good overview of Biggles plots can be garnered by reading Biggles: The Authorised Biography by John Preston.

Sapper’s Bulldog Drummond stories

Leslie Charteris The Saint series

Sax Rhomer’s Fu Manchu series

Lester Dent’s Doc Savage stories, an excellent romp through for plots and flavour can be achieved through reading Philip Jose Farmer’s biography of Doc Savage.

Walter B Gibson’s The Shadow (Alec Baldwin film falls far from the tree but is watchable.)

Robert E Howard’s contemporary horror and comic boxing stories would both add a lot of flavour.

Paul Malmont’s Chinatown Death Cloud Peril is a modern work telling a pulp story starring 30s pulp authors Gibson and Dent playing and subverting period tropes. Strongly recommended.

Marcus Hearn & Alan Barnes The Hammer Story – covers many Hammer movies (not just horrors) in double page splashes with plenty of plot and atmosphere points to plunder.

The Indiana Jones original trilogy

The Good, the Bad and the Weird – Korean Manchuria set 1930s western – mad max meets leone

The Rocketeer – awe shucks proto superhero.

High Road to China – is a Asia spanning aviation adventure starring Tom Selleck… speaking of which …

Magnum PI – despite its 80s setting steeped in pulp sensibilities and had a surprisingly number of paranormal inflected episodes.

Tales of the Golden Monkey: 1930s seaplane shenanigans TV series which I need to watch.

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Flashing Blades: The acting career

One of my current PCs Joesph is not fit for much but considering a job we thought wouldn’t bring a stage actor be interesting.

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I did find a forum post that suggested actor as a separate background but I don’t fancy that so here’s my write up mirroring how careers are laid out in the Flashing blades book. The official rules suggest an actor has 15L a month income but seems excessive compared to ‘real’ careers in the rulebook,

THE THEATRE

Any character with oratory, disguise (or a lackey with disguise) and charm of 13+ can work as an actor. They must approach one of the three theatre companies and apply for an opening.

Rank (and position) Earnings ( a yr) Chance of opening Chance of promotion
Spear Carrier 20L
Character Actor (Charm x 2) L
Principal Actor (Charm x 3) L Master at Oratory
Star (Charm x 5) L Master Superior of Oratory
Company Manager ((Captaincy + Bargaining) x 4) L 10 10
Writer (WIT x 3) L 10 10

In joining the threatre

SPEAR CARRIER

For 2 years an actor is a junior member of the cast / stage hand performing basic roles and hard labour. It takes 6 months to perform their duties and are paid 20L a year.

CHARACTER ACTOR

Upon graduating as a spear carrier the character plays significant parts. This will take 6 months of the year. He recieves his twice his charm in livre a year, a minimum of 20L. If a spear character is already a master of oratory they can jumps straight to being a principle.

PRINCIPLE

On achieving mastery of oratory an actor will become a leading actor of his troupe. He will spend 6 months of the year acting. He is paid three times his charm in livre a year.

STAR

A master superior of oratory in the acting profession can now name his fees – potentially form his own troupe. Menial tasks are below him and the actual acting will only take 3 months of the year. He is paid five times his oratory skill in livre a year.

In addition to acting other skills can provide jobs in a theatre troupe, if there’s an opening.

COMPANY MANAGER

If a character has Captaincy and bargaining he can become a Company Manager. +2 to the roll to secure the position, if he also has bureaucratics skill. +2 if he is a Principal, + 2 if a writer. A manager is earns (Captaincy + Bargaining) x 4 a year he can skim up to four times that amount a year off the Company but risks collapsing or bankrupting it on a roll of 10+ a year and discovery and prosecution by the Company’s investors . A manager takes 4 months of the year performing his duties. A character may retire from acting but continue as a Company Manager.

WRITER

A character with Wit 15+ can become a writer. +1 to the roll for History, theology and each language spoken (all the more plots to steal.) A writer is paid his three times his wit a year in livre and writing takes 4 months of the year. A character may retire from acting but continue as a writer.

MSDREOF EC102

RETURN OF THE MUSKETEERS, Kim Cattrall, 1989

Theatres of Paris

Details below from Wikipedia – for the purposes of my story the Hotel Bourgogne and Theatre du Marais are rivals with the La troupe de Monsieur above such things. All these troupes merge in 1689 to form the comedie franchaise but I’m going to use the Night at the threatre scenario relocated to one of these venues.

The most important theatres and troupes in Paris:

Hôtel de Bourgogne – until 1629, this theatre was occupied by various troupes, including the (“Comédiens du Roi“) directed by Valleran Lecomte and, at his death, by Bellerose (Pierre Le Messier). The troupe became the official “Troupe Royale” in 1629. Actors included: Turlupin, Gros-Guillaume, Gautier-Gargouille, Floridor, Monfleury, la Champmeslé.

Théâtre du Marais (1600–1673) – this rival theatre of the Hôtel de Bourgogne housed the troupe “Vieux Comédiens du Roi” around Claude Deschamps and the troupe of Jodelet.

▪ ‘La troupe de Monsieur” – under the protection of Louis XIV’s brother, this was Molière’s first Paris troupe. They moved to several theatres in Paris (the Petit-Bourbon, the Palais-Royal) before combining in 1673 with the troupe of the Théâtre du Marais and becoming the troupe of the Hôtel Guénégaud.

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1623 Case of Monsieur Le Droit (Part Trois)

Having escaped poison the Cauldroneers send Joesph’s lackey Pierre to the Constable-General with a secret message. Maintaining the rouse that they and the Davide family have fallen foul of poison the adventurers are collected by a city death wagon and taken to a clandestine meeting with their employer, France’s premier lawman.

While the Davide family are farmed off to s sumptuous Gite at the state’s expense for the duration of their temporary demise it is decided to ambush the Red Brotherhood at their Graveyard rendezvous.

To this end Joesph lurks in the tree tops his bow ready. Jean crouches in a fresh dug grave hole with 6 loaded Savoy muskets and Antonine at his side. The Baron Sordeau has disguised himself as the Baron De Gras one of the conspirators.

6 City Guards with matchlocks or halberds are available to seal the two entrances to the graveyard when merde gets real.

When the conspirators arrive they each have two rapier armed guards – so The Baron Sordeau stands out like a sore thumb. As he exchanges accusation and counter accusation with the real Baron De Graz loses his temper and pulls a small pistol shooting our hero! Fortunately his shot in the flank is not serious and Jean ‘le fusilade’ De Griz who has been aiming at the Spanish Ambassador fires – blowing out a chunk of his forearm and disarming him.

There follows a flurry of action archery from Joesph stuns a Spanish swordsman enabling Baron Sordeau to draw and hold Don Salamanca at rapier point.

At this the French conspirators flee. Jean ‘power burns’ de Griz blows the head off Monsiuer Moulin the rival banker in the conspiracy while Antonine trips and incapacitates the read Baron De Graz. Jean then eventually on the second attempt hobbling the Chevalier Didone and the City Guard closing the trap.

Evidence was required and evidence was found :

  • Don Salamanca had a bill of exchange for 10,000 pieces of eight on him (40,000 Livre)
  • The Baron had plans for the forts on the Spanish Netherlands border
  • Monsieur Moulin had accounts that would have confirmed the artillery of the forts

Don Salamanca is returned to Spain under some experiment the Cardinal has agreed called ‘diplomatic immunity’ but the Baron De Graz and Chevalieur Didone are broken on the wheel for their treachery!

EPILOGUE

Celebrating their payment in their lodgings the adventurers respond to a knock on the door. It is the Lady Malfleur ! She congratulates on them on their recent service to France and gives them a word of warning – the poison in their case is well know to the Cardinal’s Agents – it’s the tool of a Spanish assassin Martin Pedrosa – a man known to be unhappy to be have been duped and leave work undone.

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