Sunday, July 5, 2015

Historical Settings and Useful Links

Historical Settings

Since I am running a more or less historical campaign I've needed to learn a lot about the 17th century in Europe, especially France. For the most part, I focus on the period during the reign of Louis XIII, which is 1610-1643. My campaign is set in the 1620s. It started in November of 1622 and the current date is April 1, 1624. So the period of Louis' reign gives me things the PCs would know from their youth or infancy as well as stuff that is upcoming.
The reason I say more or less historical is three fold. First, I am not an historian, I can't really read French, and thus my knowledge of this period is limited. To paraphrase Dick Cheney, I know a lot of stuff about this time. I know some of things I don't know. But there is a lot of stuff I don't even know that I don't know.
Second, the game world has fictional characters that I have added. I've included a number of literary characters, like Dumas' version of the Three Musketeers or Gil de Berault from Stanley J. Weyman's Under the Red Robe as well as numerous NPCs that I made up to serve as potential allies, lovers, rivals, and antagonists for the PCs or to fill out the cast of nameless extras that history gives no name or face to. Also we have the PCs themselves. They are fictional, though not of my creation as the GM. All those fictional people are running about plotting, scheming, acting, and interacting which creates ripples or changes that can move the game world away from our history. As one example, due to some actions in play Cardinal Richelieu was allowed to form his personal guard about six months to a year sooner than would be historically accurate.
Third, way back when we started the campaign the players and I agreed that the campaign might include a limited amount of supernatural elements. Some PCs are superstitious as were many people in the period so sometimes they ascribe a supernatural explanation to something that is in fact natural. But in the last few game months the PCs encountered to separate, actual loup garous or as we English speakers call them, werewolves. So several PCs now know that there are more things in the world than Horatio's philosophy knew of.
But for the most part, everything is pretty normal, mundane, and historical. I have found the Internet to be a great resource for finding stuff about this period. It also helps to look things up with the French, Spanish, or English version of real people's names or things. Some stuff is not translated or not fully translated into English and an English only search may miss some great resources. Here are a few of the resources I've come across and used.


Phases of the Moon: 1601 to 1700: This link will give you a table with the date and time of all phases of the Moon for a period of one century. This data is provided primarily to assist in historical research projects. One thing to note is that in the first part of the 17th century, England/Britain still uses the less accurate Julian calendar instead of the Jesuit invented Gregorian calendar used by most continental states. Personally I think it is pretty cool to be able to use actual dates for full moons, dark of the moon and such, rather than treating lunar phases solely as some narrative device.
Databases on Money and Pricing for the Early Modern Period: Source for actual prices of some things, while many prices are for commodities, there are some useful prices for things an adventurer or noble might buy.
A History of 17th Century Europe
Timeline 1601-1700



Henry IV:
Henry IV Website:
Louis XIII:
  • The total population of France circa 1600 was 20,000,000
  • The Huguenot population circa 1610 was just under 1,000,000
The Huguenot Population of France, 1600-1685: The Demographic Fate and Customs of a Religious Minority, by Philip Benedict, Publisher: American Philosophical Society, (ISSN 0065-9746) page 75, Table 18.

Dutch (United Provinces)

Russia and Poland

Popular Revolts

Illnesses and Cures from the Middle Ages is a useful resource for playing a Healer or Apothecary.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great idea. Thanks for posting them. You should really make this a "page" on your blog that you can update with useful links as you find them.