Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What I'm Reading: A History of France by George William Kitchen

Currently I am reading from a history of France.

While doing some research for my campaign timeline, I came across a multivolume history of France. I’m using two of the volumes to add to my knowledge of the period and to my campaign timeline.

One might ask why I am using a source that is over one hundred years old. Well there are two reasons.

First, these books are written at a level of detail that is quite useful for my purposes. For example, one footnote 2 on page 24 quotes a satiric writing of the time that lists clerical supporters and allies of Richelieu.

This information is perfect for my campaign. Several PCs work for Richelieu as guards or as one of his secretaries and the secretary is a Jesuit who is there to spy on Richelieu. So knowing who some of his chief clerical supporters were, and by process of elimination, who were not supporters, is extremely useful in sorting through the rivalries between the various Catholic groups e.g. Capuchins, Jesuits, Dominicans, Oratorians, Richelieu himself, etc.Henri d'Escoubleua de Sourdis Bishop of Maillezais (and later Archbishop of Bordeaux) is now a new NPC allied to Richelieu. And thus a new source for intrigue and a possible patron. Perhaps Father Signoret may be promoted to a position on the Curia of Bishop de Sourdis.

The second reason is that the EBook is free and available. So the price is pretty difficult to beat.

EDIT: Let's see if this fixes the image links. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Campaign Calendar

One of the things I've done for several campaigns is to keep a campaign calendar. I first started doing that around 1980 when I started my first Runequest campaign set in Balazar and the Elder Wilds of Glorantha. A lot of that campaign was wilderness exploration, literally in the case of the Elder Wilds, and weather and seasons were a big factor in travel. In addition the detailed information on cults in Glorantha made it important to know whether or not a day was the Holy Day for some cult. 

Later in the 1990s when I started my Star Wars campaign, I had multiple player groups and a co-GM so tracking time had the potential to be important to keep track of who was where and when. I wanted the player characters to have time to grow in knowledge and competence before the movies. At that time, there were only the original three films so I set the start of the campaign to 3 years before the Battle of Yavin (3BBY). The timeline started in the mists of the Old Republic 25,000 years before declaration by Senator Palpatine of the New Order and Empire. The ancient history provided by West End Games and the extended universe was useful for a few relic hunting adventures and to know how long some of the alien and human cultures had interacted. But for the most part, the history closer to the time of Episode IV: A New Hope was important. I included things like the Clone Wars, Foundation of Empire, and the year or even date of birth for PCs and for relevant NPCs. I needed to know how old an Old Republican Senator might be and it was kind of satisfying to know how old characters were or even to be able to celebrate a birthday. As the prequels came out, I fit those dates into my chronology. I used one of the calendars from the extended universe that had ten months of 35 days with a few intercalary days. The intercalary days nicely fit my image of Palpatine and the Empire, mirroring in some ways, the Claudian dynasty and the start the Roman Empire. And the intercalary days provided some holidays, which occasionally provided a plot hook and helped ground the players and characters in the setting. Using the calendar I was able to fit in activity for the PCs that linked to and supported A New Hope. PCs were responsible for the creation of one of the Rebel Alliances major medals, the Wings of Freedom, awarded for saving the life of Mon Monthma, spiriting away from Incom the plans, prototypes, and core design team for the X-Wing, a couple of key steps in the acquisition of the Death Star plan, the rebellion of an entire sectors, and other stuff along the way. The campaign ran for over 10 years of real time and 3 years of game time (some PCs lead very hectic lives) and finally went on hiatus at the end of 2011 or about six months after the end of A New Hope. 

That is all a long introduction for the fact that when I decided to run Honor+Intrigue and set it in an historical fiction version of 1620s France, I knew I would need a calendar so I could track what was going on in the wider game world based on our real world history. I wanted to involve the PCs with real life people and events - as well as with fictional characters. The King's Musketeer PC practices fencing with Athos and several PCs are in the Cardinal's Guards. One is the Guard's first Captain-Lieutenant.  

The timeline is a bit long. It runs to an 18 page table. I've grabbed historical events from a lot of sources to create the campaign timeline and then fitted in the adventures of the PCs when they occurred. To keep it from being ridiculously long, I've kept the entries for the adventures to just the Book, Adventure # and name, and Chapter # and name. I have a separate file that lists the experience (Advancement Point) awards and expenditures of the PCs and third file in Excel so I can run stats to see how fast I award APs and at what rate different PCs gain awards.

As the timeline might be useful as a resource, I decided to place the timeline as a page on my blog. I'll update the page  periodically.