In these confused times, a lot of friends of mine have found a way to relieve part of the pressure by, as they say, “exorcising” the fear of the pandemic by a steady diet of post-apocalyptic fiction – zombie movies, TV series about viruses and the collapse of civilization, novels and comics about crumbling cities and lone survivors.
And it’s all good and fine, if that works for them – it just does not work for me. And I am keeping myself up with old pulp adventures, sword & sorcery and space operas, and classic swashbucklers.
And last night I was checking out what’s new on DriveThruRPGs and I found a massive discount on a game I know and I’ve wanted to play forever.
A complete game for 5 bucks?
A game with musketeers fighting werewolves on its cover?
Come on, are you kidding me?
Actually I already knew All for One – Regime Diabolique, by Paul Wade Williams, in its Savage Worlds incarnation – the one with the royal blue cover. But the original game is the one with the green cover – the one that runs on Ubiquity.
The basic premise: the year is 1636, and while the Thirty Years War rages across Europe, evil is afoot in the shadows.
From here, imagine a collision of Dumas’ The Three Musketeers with the movie Brotherhood of the Wolf (even if that’s set in the 18th century), with a liberal dash of Solomon Kane as seasoning, and maybe Michael Moorcock’s The War Hound and the World’s Pain.
In other words, the players portray musketeers that – by chance or by design, by appointment or by ill luck – come face to face with the forces of evil and the occult, in Paris and all over the place. And they respond as the King’s men always do, with swashbuckling bravado and sharp steel.
It is swashbuckling sword & sorcery more than horror, as magic (in this specific instance, the sort that’s spelled with a final -k) is almost completely on the side of evil, and the supernatural still can feel the bite of a cold blade.
The basic handbook – a nicely black and white illustrated 200-pages volume as I said currently available for about 5 bucks as a pdf in DriveThruRPG (possibly because this is the first edition, and a second edition exists) – includes all that’s needed for play: a ton of character options to play any sort of Musketeer – from God-fearing Aramis-style schemers to scarred Athos-like veterans, spies and duellists, and the occasional natural philosopher; a big selection of non-player characters, including of course Cardinal Richelieu, Rochefort and Milady; secret societies and organizations to serve as support or foil and different fencing schools that make swordfights different and interesting; a choice of supernatural creatures, including demons and imps, unquiet spirits and gargoyles, hell-hounds and vampires; first class, concise but useful historical facts and timelines.
All for One – Regime Diabolique is lean and focused, and it’s the sort of RPG book I like the best – the sort that inspires you ideas for adventures and campaigns on every page, and in which engine, setting and premise work together like clockwork. The characters as musketeers can be thrown into a variety of situations – from conspiracies and spy games to witch-hunts and murder investigations, to working as bodyguards or operating as freelancers in their spare time. And the game supports all that and more. There’s no wasted space here, and as the game runs on Ubiquity, it’s fast to set up and fast to play.
Also, the Ubiquity engine means I can use material from other Ubiquity games (say, for instance, Leagues of Gothic Horror, or Leagues of Cthulhu) to add a few extras to my games and surprise my players. Throw in a few good novels and movies to inspire master and players, and this is really the sort of game that might have something for everyone.
Right now, my online team seems to be enjoying Hollow Earth Expedition (about which, I’ll have to post a full, detailed review as soon as possible) quite a bit, and indeed the Ubiquity system is turning out to be almost perfect to be played online. Should we ever feel tired of the Hollow Earth, a quick tour of Paris’ underworld during the reign of Louis the XIII might provide a refreshing distraction.