Friday, February 10, 2023

Why not the Three Musketeers?

I picked up a recent bundle QAGS (the Quick Ass Game System) primarily because I am interesting in Hobomancy. However, that isn't going to keep me from looking at the other games in the system. Incidentally, QAGS has reinforced the idea to me that the biggest building block of an RPG is the story and setting and the mechanics draw my attention the most I when they get in the way of those two things. QAGS looks like a perfectly functional system but I am actually invested in what I can get out of the setting books.

All for One is a game about playing in the spirit of Alexandre Dumas's D'Artagnan novels. You know, the Three Musketeers.

I think Philip Jose Farmer wrote that D'Artagnan was the first pulp hero. That's a fun argument to have but the fact that you can even have that argument speaks to the influence and importance of these stories. Let's face it, swashbuckling is always fun.

And yet, I have never played an RPG that is based on the Three Musketeers. And I can't think of one. I am 100% positive that there are plenty of them but they haven't made an impression on me or any of the groups I've played with. And I think there are a couple reasons for that.

It's set in the real world so you lose the fantastic, escapist elements that you find in just about every setting. (Not that Dumas was writing anything that was _actually_ realistic) And, part of the part and parcel of that is that everyone is kind of the same class. What sets D'Artnagnan and Athos and Porthos and Aramis apart from each other is their personalities. And the plots of their adventures are less straight forward action and more intrigue.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these elements. I have been in one-class campaigns and intrigue is what you graduate up to when you get tired of dungeon crawls. But playing a game in the style of the Three Musketeers is not what most people are going to get into as pre-adolescents.

I will be thrilled to find out I am wrong and there's a thriving community of Three Musketeers campaigns out there I just don't know about.

All of that said, All For One was a good read. The authors actually spent more time discussing what the actual history was like. And that was the part that I really sank my teeth into. I do think it could have used more meat when it came to developing adventures for players.

I don't think I will play in or run an adventure based on the Three Musketeers or the Man in the Iron Mask. But I did enjoy reading about France in the 1600s.

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