Episode 106: Requiescat in High-Energy Particles

This month, Roger and Mike look back at En Garde! and consider fate (as distinct from FATE) and destiny.

We mentioned

Mutants and Masterminds at the Bundle of Holding, Masks, The Elusive Shift, En Garde!, the modern publisher, Slobbovia, Arkham Horror, GURPS Swashbucklers, Good Society, Fiasco, Joseph Campbell stuff, Tasha Yar, GURPS Celtic Myth,

We have a tip jar (please tell us how you’d like to be acknowledged on the show).

Music by Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com.


Mung Fu sounds like a very Pratchett-esque style of martial art. :grin: It would fit in quite nicely along with Deja Fu.

On destiny in games I recall a story from when I started undergrad that I don’t remember if it was a game on campus, a published example, or lifted hearsay.

The player took a dark fate disadvantage thing that he would die defending Valhalla thinking he was clever. In session 3 his character gets smoked in a relatively inconsequential brawl sheltering an NPC. As the kvetching begins the storyteller offers an ahem and ‘pans the camera up’ to reveal the sign over the parking lot, “Valhalla Bar and Grill”.


Re En Garde!, it was discussed at length in What Is Dungeons & Dragons? by Butterfield, Parker and Honigmann (Penguin, 1982) and compared to D&D in terms of mechanics, differences in base assumptions (abstract levels versus social standing, for example) and style of play. The authors were clearly fans and certainly seemed to regard it as simply a different sort of RPG.

As far as the game’s authors go, as far as I know it was written by Frank Chadwick and Darryl Hany. PEvans and Theo acquired the licence to publish it around 1988 because they needed to have copies available for their popular postal version (and since GDW was around at that point I’m guessing it was licensed from the original publisher). The current edition, practically identical to the 1988 one, seems to be published by Paul Evans alone.

By the mid-eighties I think that the general tendency for players fancying a bit of X-number-of-Musketeers action was simply to play Flashing Blades instead.

Edit: James Maliszewski wrote a retrospective of the game, uh, rather longer ago than I recalled…


Or Lace and Steel of course, something I should have mentioned.

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I’m not sure how widely known Lace & Steel was, though. Even though I had a copy myself (along with the sole supplement) I never actually played it and didn’t know anyone else who did. Considering the timing and popularity of the Musketeers movies it’s perhaps odd that there were - and remain - so few games dealing with the genre.

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I played a bit of LACE & STEEL using GURPS mechanics. Never felt inspired enough to run a campaign. The visuals were wonderful but not enough for me to create a series of adventures.

It would make a lovely setting for something EN GARDE derived or maybe a very gentle REIGN game.

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On the GURPS Destiny theme - I’d be interested to know what Advs and Disadvs you think help the GM (in whatever way) and which other ones are a burden or hindrance.

I think I’ve said before that Weirdness Magnet is a requirement for the GM to come up with a constant stream of interesting and non-lethal things to happen to the character, to the point that I’ve informally banned it from games I’m running. There might be more… and there are certainly some that nobody ever takes because they aren’t interesting.

It’s one of the reservations I have about the “success with complications” mechanic that a lot of games have nowadays. It requires me to come up with complications all the time, often in a quite narrow band to be relevant without fundamentally subverting the success. That’s quite a bit of extra spontaneity on top of the GM’s workload.

<looks pointedly at Numenera, -in the Dark, -World etc etc…>

Yeah, that’s why I was so surprised I enjoyed Genesys, which has a similar mechanic – but it also has a list of standard things you can spend Advantage/Disadvantage on, so if you as GM are feeling uninspired, you can just say “OK, your next action gets an extra black die” and keep things moving.

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