Miseries & Misfortunes: Les Fruits Malheureux
1648, Paris: The ongoing wars of the Counter-Reformation enter their 30th year. These wars have dragged all of Europe into a bloody quagmire, destroying more than eight million lives, toppling old orders and giving rise to new powers.
In Paris, Queen Anne reigns as regent for her 10 year old son, Louis Dieudonné. The strong-willed regent grapples with her obstreperous Parlement, aided by her savvy minister, the Cardinal Mazarin. Discontent grows as the jurists, the nobles and Anne's own court contend over new taxes and official appointments meant to fund a kingdom ravaged by endless, ongoing war.
Archduke Leopold Wilhelm and his Spanish tercios prowls the northern border of France in the Spanish Netherlands. In the past year he has devoured the French towns of Armentières, Comines and Landrecies, not 118 miles (190 km) from Paris. Now he is threatening to capitalize on the Parisian unrest and march south to capture his ancient rival's capital.
The denizens of Paris are uneasy. The price of bread is rising. They harangue the Queen and the court, demanding something be done. And when the court can only fight amongst itself, the citizens riot in protest, breaking the windows of Mazarin's mansion with sling stones.
The General Crisis
For the past four or five years, I have been nursing an obsession with the life and politics of the mid-century 17th century. It began as a need to know what Msr. D'Artagnan's Paris was like, and a search for the origin of the Parisian catacombs. After answering those two questions, I had stumbled onto so many more questions. And the obsession rapidly spread from Paris, to the Holy Roman Empire, to Spain, to the Americas, Japan, Philippines and China and more. This was a world of immeasurable cruelty and turmoil. Self-inflicted wounds of wars, religious strife and absolutist thinking exacerbated the upheaval brought on by the climate change of the Little Ice Age.
Yet it was also a time that produced works of art so great, they burn brightly even today: Rembrandt painted in Amsterdam, as did Velazquez in Madrid; Monteverdi composed in Italy; while Moliere wrote and performed in Paris.
The more I read, the more fascinated I become.
These Unhappy Fruits
In 2015, I release a zine format book called "Miseries & Misfortunes." In it, I presented a light hack of Basic (Moldvay) D&D that provided rules for combat, firearms, initiative, as well as rules for new classes: Soldier of Fortune, Urchin, Chaplain, Necromancer, Explorer and Philosopher. You can get that original hack in PDF form as part of this campaign (I'll make it available again to all backers as soon as the campaign concludes).
However, since then, I have continued to tinker with the rules set. In particular, I have dug into the Chaplain and Necromancer classes. In my attempt to fix them, I have accidentally rewired the entire character system and have created a new lifepath system, new XP system and new skill progression system for Basic D&D. So while this new edition of Miseries & Misfortunes—The Unhappy Fruits—will technically be a hack of Moldvay D&D, it will be a complete self-contained game. In addition to the above systems, I am working on a mitigation mechanic (similar to Deeds points), a new morale system for the gunpowder age, a wealth system and an honor system. All using the lovely six-, eight-, ten-, and twenty-sided dice.
The Misshapen Pearl
I have ridiculously grand visions for this game, but in order to limit the amount of work I'm proposing, the core book—Miseries & Misfortunes: Les Fruit Malheureux—will cover the complete new rules set, but will focus the setting on Paris in 1648. I'll include the various political factions and figures of note at play in this tumultuous year, but you'll all play denizens of Lutetia-Paris.
However, I am willing to go further if you are. The world in 1648 is simply too enticing to leave unexamined. For folks that pledge for the 1648 tier, I will release lifepaths, politics, languages and religions for the entire world: Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia and Indonesia, New Spain and New France, Brazil and Africa. And through this lens, I will show you a global, world-spanning culture of trade and exchange; a marvelous, vibrant, bloody, tattered tapestry flying over the corpses of the Renaissance and Middle Ages, desperately hoping for some reprieve in the coming dawn of the Enlightenment.
Form and Function
The original Miseries & Misfortunes was a 58-page landscape format zine with a kraft-speckletone cover. I quite like the format, so I'm looking to do the new edition in the same fashion.
Risks and challenges
The real danger here is that I dig an ever deeper research hole and never finish the 1648 book. It could happen, but it's going to be a fun ride. Seriously though, *I may never finish 1648.* If that's something you're uncomfortable with, *do not back this project.*
However, I will share my notes and research as we go. I'm actually looking for help in the research from experts in Baroque and Early Modern areas — especially in early modern Asia, South American, Africa and Indonesia. So if you'll looking for a polished product to suddenly emerge, that's not going to happen.
And the last challenge that I can think of is that I am not going to update frequently or respond to comments with any regularity. When I have news or new material to show, I will post it. Otherwise, in order to keep the project on track, community engagement will be secondary to design. If you need high engagement from a creator, *do not back this project.*Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (11 days)