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Old 01-18-2012, 10:38 PM   #1
Huscurian
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Default Ideas for Fantastical France?

Gloire pour la France!

Fantastical France is my newest, upcoming campaign. I have already talked with several players (which I won't take on anymore since this is a friends-only campaign) about Fantastical France.

Fantastical France is set in fantasy 1500s France, where France is in the early throes of the Middle Ages, where wars might occur between France and England. Even a Germanic Crusade is possible, cutting right into France should religion get the better of them by going berserk with fervor. France has other assorted creatures.

Young Marigold, a beautiful elf (275 years old; 16 years old HSY), unknowingly runs into a secret plot that would destroy the glory of France by deposing of a well-meaning but Alzheimers-ridden king and effectively making sure the crown prince never sits on the throne by encouraging him to be more squalid, inconfident, even a buffoon or a fool in front of others. She must gather a group of friends in order to confront the greatest evil in France: Letizia, the Italian witch with powerful magic.

I already have created the PCs, NPCs, and will be creating a list of generic enemies to throw at young Marigold and her friends. ;) I also have installed MapTools 3.b85, put a map in, and will be starting on creating new areas for the PCs to explore should they run into specific hexes.

My question is... despite a humorous campaign that may ensue, what ideas do you have that may help me sort out some "Point A, Point B" route that may keep the game fresh, or the campaign ongoing.

I may assume 10 sessions for around 1 hour to 3 hours depending on the availability of the players so it won't be so long a campaign.
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Old 01-18-2012, 11:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: Ideas for Fantastical France?

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Originally Posted by Huscurian View Post
Fantastical France is set in fantasy 1500s France, where France is in the early throes of the Middle Ages, where wars might occur between France and England. Even a Germanic Crusade is possible, cutting right into France should religion get the better of them by going berserk with fervor. France has other assorted creatures.
I'm used to the Middle Ages starting in the 500s, and the High Middle Ages not long after 1000. When I see "1500s" I think Renaissance; it's after the fall of Constantinople, the Reconquista, and the discovery of America.

I think it might have been around then that Baldassare Castiglione wrote his Book of the Courtier, with its long passage about how the Italians love art and music and cuisine, but the uncivilized French care for nothing but hunting and war.

That said, I might look at the rediscovery of relics of pagan Rome as sources of no longer understood magical powers. A lost shrine to Mithras or Isis could have very interesting effects.

Bill Stoddard
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Old 01-18-2012, 11:41 PM   #3
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Default Re: Ideas for Fantastical France?

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That said, I might look at the rediscovery of relics of pagan Rome as sources of no longer understood magical powers. A lost shrine to Mithras or Isis could have very interesting effects.
Or items and knowledge brought back from the New World. My first thought was native, but then I remembered the fringe theories of pre-Columbian Templar voyages. The Portuguese were also exploring the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia, which is another source for mysticism.

Another thought is that perhaps one of the 13th century explorers of Asia finds the kingdom of Prester John.
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Old 01-19-2012, 12:12 AM   #4
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Default Re: Ideas for Fantastical France?

Religious problems would be my first guess. Internal ones would be more likely than external ones. The Huguenots were really influential and the kings could only contain them by repeatedly cracking down on them. One of the GURPS Who is Who volumes has a nice alternate history seed where they eventually settle French North America en masse, but that's probably best for the late 1500s. Religious fervour from Germany leading to a crusade would not be likely. The Holy Empire had enough problems with religion of their own to occupy them for more than a century. They would be a major exporter of new kinds of heretics, though.

If you want to change tacks you can also tone down the reformation inside the Empire after the initial phase. That would give the Habsburgs a better chance to actually use their power in Spain and the Netherlands to exert pressure on France. And there is still the matter of Calais held by the English.

Colonial matters would likely be more important later on, but if you want to give your French a head-start just make them a bit more adventurous.
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Old 01-19-2012, 12:21 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ideas for Fantastical France?

Maybe check out (GURPS) Castle Falkenstein and turn back the clock a couple of centuries: Faeries, Dwarves, Dragons, Book Magic. -GEF
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Old 01-19-2012, 01:38 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ideas for Fantastical France?

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Originally Posted by Huscurian View Post
. . . a secret plot that would destroy the glory of France by deposing of a well-meaning but Alzheimers-ridden king and effectively making sure the crown prince never sits on the throne by encouraging him to be more squalid, inconfident, even a buffoon or a fool in front of others. She must gather a group of friends in order to confront the greatest evil in France: Letizia, the Italian witch with powerful magic. . .
Why be fictional?

Make the Italian witch Catherine de Medici, the actual queen of France in the mid-1500s; allegedly she encouraged her sons I in a variety of nastiness. (Her husband, Henri II, gave her no access to state affairs; he was too busy with his state affair with Diane de Poitiers. Note that Queen Catherine would then have excellent cause to scheme against hubby.) Look Catherine up and check her personality -- she is almost a wicked witch (at least to some) who doesn't need the magic.

She had three sons and at least one daughter. Each of her sons in turn became King of France -- and all, IIRC, had some serious mental or emotional issues.

Oh -- the French term for the heir to the throne was Dauphin.

Last edited by fredtheobviouspseudonym; 01-19-2012 at 01:41 AM.
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Old 01-19-2012, 02:00 AM   #7
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Default Re: Ideas for Fantastical France?

A few ideas.

- Magic/supernatural: this is the century of Nostradamus! Is he a quack, if not, who's inspiring him? Can shorter-term, and clearer, prophecies be obtained from him? At what price?

- Magic/supernatural: alchemy is coming of age. You can have cameo appearances of guys like Paracelsus or Agrippa. Lead to gold, anyone?

- Wars: rather than a German crusade, you can have a longer-lasting anti-French alliance that becomes a serious threat for France's survival itself; you have the HRE and Spain together, and England as their ally. Tough job.

- Wars: it's the century when black powder weapons go from clumsy siege cannons to small arms. Let's exploit that - or, on the contrary, let's suppress that.

- Natural danger: the plague's back!

- Exploration: let's settle Quebec and exploit the Newfoundland cod. Maybe more French colonies than in actual history?
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Old 01-19-2012, 06:39 AM   #8
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Default Re: Ideas for Fantastical France?

There are two authors to look up. First Rabelais who used a great deal of folklore in his Gargantua and Patagruel, and then Ariosto who's Orlando Furioso was the fantasy megahit of this period. Just reading good articles of their major works would give you squadrons of ideas and details.

Have wicked fun.

(Yes I know the second guy is Italian, the French loved his books!)
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Old 01-19-2012, 08:02 AM   #9
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Default Re: Ideas for Fantastical France?

Try to give the fantasy elements a more distinctly French flavor, to whatever extent possible. In this light, perhaps instead of elves, you have Fée, goblins and lutins instead of orcs and hobgoblins, specifically French dragons such as the Gargouille and the Tarasque, dangerous Fée such as the Dames Blanches, Melusine, and Morgan le Fay, a lot of references to the Matter of France (Charlemagne, Roland, Huon, Malagigi, all that) and all that.

Other ideas:

If they pass by Mortain, there's the Gap of Goeblin there, could be your campaign's version of Moria.

Perhaps the animal fables and epics of Reynard the Fox and others could have a basis in reality; this could justify talking or even anthropomorphic foxes (Reynard), bears (Bruin), wolves (Isengrim), cats (Tybalt), and asses (Baldwin) in the setting.

Speaking of wolves, France has legendarily been lousy with loup garou, although it's a mite early for the Beast of Gevaudan.

The 1500s is before the fairy tales get written down by Perrault and d'Aulnoy, but the tales certainly exist by this point, or could be used as the basis for adventures if you wished.

And there are two other literary sources of fantasy set in France I would recommend mining - two fantasy provinces of France, actually:

Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne

James Branch Cabell's Poictesme

One warning, though - delving into either of these could easily sidetrack you from gaming entirely for a while.
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Old 01-19-2012, 12:24 PM   #10
Huscurian
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Default Re: Ideas for Fantastical France?

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I'm used to the Middle Ages starting in the 500s, and the High Middle Ages not long after 1000. When I see "1500s" I think Renaissance; it's after the fall of Constantinople, the Reconquista, and the discovery of America.

I think it might have been around then that Baldassare Castiglione wrote his Book of the Courtier, with its long passage about how the Italians love art and music and cuisine, but the uncivilized French care for nothing but hunting and war.

That said, I might look at the rediscovery of relics of pagan Rome as sources of no longer understood magical powers. A lost shrine to Mithras or Isis could have very interesting effects.

Bill Stoddard
Interesting. I do know that England and France have been at war with each other for so long they'd want to cut each other's throats. I may not know a lot about the Middle Ages but the 1500s I put in would have been in the beginning of another war between France and England.

As for the relics of pagan Rome or no longer understood magical powers, the PCs cannot have magic since magic is rarely sought out. I would assume, from my fictional viewpoint, that France used to know magic in the times of the Roman Empire as the Gauls but that knowledge had died out slowly.

While Rome may have relics with magical properties, it is likely these relics were sacked, taken, or robbed and sold to others. France may possess some of them but the King likely would have had them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanW View Post
Or items and knowledge brought back from the New World. My first thought was native, but then I remembered the fringe theories of pre-Columbian Templar voyages. The Portuguese were also exploring the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia, which is another source for mysticism.

Another thought is that perhaps one of the 13th century explorers or Asia finds the kingdom of Prester John.
I'll have to look into it but largely the campaign focuses on entirely France, parts of England but that's it. It's not too powerful or massive a campaign (though I may build on it given time).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blind Mapmaker View Post
Religious problems would be my first guess. Internal ones would be more likely than external ones. The Huguenots were really influential and the kings could only contain them by repeatedly cracking down on them. One of the GURPS Who is Who volumes has a nice alternate history seed where they eventually settle French North America en masse, but that's probably best for the late 1500s. Religious fervour from Germany leading to a crusade would not be likely. The Holy Empire had enough problems with religion of their own to occupy them for more than a century. They would be a major exporter of new kinds of heretics, though.

If you want to change tacks you can also tone down the reformation inside the Empire after the initial phase. That would give the Habsburgs a better chance to actually use their power in Spain and the Netherlands to exert pressure on France. And there is still the matter of Calais held by the English.

Colonial matters would likely be more important later on, but if you want to give your French a head-start just make them a bit more adventurous.
Of course, I may include the "Free Calais" side quest as part of the quest for Marigold. ;) And thank you for letting me know. I just thought Germans must have had a crusade as the Teutonic Knights and blazed into parts of France. I must have been duly misinformed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gef View Post
Maybe check out (GURPS) Castle Falkenstein and turn back the clock a couple of centuries: Faeries, Dwarves, Dragons, Book Magic. -GEF
Too freaky, maaannnn! Lol. I might give it a shot but not sure if it's what I'm looking for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fredtheobviouspseudonym View Post
Why be fictional?

Make the Italian witch Catherine de Medici, the actual queen of France in the mid-1500s; allegedly she encouraged her sons I in a variety of nastiness. (Her husband, Henri II, gave her no access to state affairs; he was too busy with his state affair with Diane de Poitiers. Note that Queen Catherine would then have excellent cause to scheme against hubby.) Look Catherine up and check her personality -- she is almost a wicked witch (at least to some) who doesn't need the magic.

She had three sons and at least one daughter. Each of her sons in turn became King of France -- and all, IIRC, had some serious mental or emotional issues.

Oh -- the French term for the heir to the throne was Dauphin.
Thanks for that term dauphin. :) That will come in handy. As for Catherine de Medici, that is a very interesting story. I may incorporate that into a more serious Fantastical France. This one is a humorous version, hence the fictitious nature of people, places, coincidences, and possible ideas.

Though I do assume that magic is a part of the campaign, using Catherine de Medici as the primary antagonist without magic might give her disadvantages against combat-geared characters. She may be more social, uses more of her IQ and that's why I thought that a witch with magic could be a good idea to offset that disadvantage.

Though thanks, I'll still keep that lady in mind for a more serious FF.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
A few ideas.

- Magic/supernatural: this is the century of Nostradamus! Is he a quack, if not, who's inspiring him? Can shorter-term, and clearer, prophecies be obtained from him? At what price?

- Magic/supernatural: alchemy is coming of age. You can have cameo appearances of guys like Paracelsus or Agrippa. Lead to gold, anyone?

- Wars: rather than a German crusade, you can have a longer-lasting anti-French alliance that becomes a serious threat for France's survival itself; you have the HRE and Spain together, and England as their ally. Tough job.

- Wars: it's the century when black powder weapons go from clumsy siege cannons to small arms. Let's exploit that - or, on the contrary, let's suppress that.

- Natural danger: the plague's back!

- Exploration: let's settle Quebec and exploit the Newfoundland cod. Maybe more French colonies than in actual history?
I like those ideas. I may use those for the serious version. I might, just might include Nostradamus as a small cameo in Paris, screaming and hollering about predictions, etc. :P I think my players might find that ... "er, ahem, odd."

As for wars, Michele, I have decided to allow "Letizia" to command a group of Arquebusiers, a pre-muisketeer type unit using gunpowered pistols but with weak melee skills. This might throw the PCs off their trail and find better ways to combat the enemy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Astromancer View Post
There are two authors to look up. First Rabelais who used a great deal of folklore in his Gargantua and Patagruel, and then Ariosto who's Orlando Furioso was the fantasy megahit of this period. Just reading good articles of their major works would give you squadrons of ideas and details.

Have wicked fun.

(Yes I know the second guy is Italian, the French loved his books!)
Thanks for that source of information! I appreciate that. I'll be reading into it and hopefully find ideas foaming off my head.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vitruvian View Post
Try to give the fantasy elements a more distinctly French flavor, to whatever extent possible. In this light, perhaps instead of elves, you have Fée, goblins and lutins instead of orcs and hobgoblins, specifically French dragons such as the Gargouille and the Tarasque, dangerous Fée such as the Dames Blanches, Melusine, and Morgan le Fay, a lot of references to the Matter of France (Charlemagne, Roland, Huon, Malagigi, all that) and all that.

Other ideas:

If they pass by Mortain, there's the Gap of Goeblin there, could be your campaign's version of Moria.

Perhaps the animal fables and epics of Reynard the Fox and others could have a basis in reality; this could justify talking or even anthropomorphic foxes (Reynard), bears (Bruin), wolves (Isengrim), cats (Tybalt), and asses (Baldwin) in the setting.

Speaking of wolves, France has legendarily been lousy with loup garou, although it's a mite early for the Beast of Gevaudan.

The 1500s is before the fairy tales get written down by Perrault and d'Aulnoy, but the tales certainly exist by this point, or could be used as the basis for adventures if you wished.

And there are two other literary sources of fantasy set in France I would recommend mining - two fantasy provinces of France, actually:

Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne

James Branch Cabell's Poictesme

One warning, though - delving into either of these could easily sidetrack you from gaming entirely for a while.
Much of this could be used for the serious version though I have to thank you for reminding me of Le Pacte des Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf), a very grim tale of the Beast of Gevaudan though it is set in the 18th century with musketeers, line infantry. Great movie but I'll do more research.

Thank you everyone for all your help! I will post an update on the session once it's rolled out. :)

By the way, I wonder what is the policy of this forum when it comes to posting screenshots?

EDIT: I read the FAQ on photos and I don't think screenshots are allowed in posts through forums but can be created through albums of photos. I can do this and show everyone that by linking you guys to check out the screenies. :)

Last edited by Huscurian; 01-19-2012 at 12:43 PM.
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