Miseries & Misfortunes

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Miseries and Misfortunes is a 54-page supplement for Basic Dungeons & Dragons. It contains six new classes, as well as weapons, spells and equipment for playing D&D in the first half of the 17th century. Rules describe fighting with rapier, pistol, pike and musket in small formations, hiring servants and exploring strange and forgotten places.

Miseries & Misfortunes

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From August 1648 to April 1649, Paris was riven by strife.

To say that is simple, but it is a complex picture to paint. Because the trouble doesn't begin there. You see, Louis XIII is dead. His eldest son, soon to be Louis XIV, is too young to rule. His mother, Anne of Austria, rules as his regent. And her rival, the great Cardinal, is also dead. So the Queen's right hand is the Cardinal Mazarin, the Minister of France.

In 1648, France participated in the Peace of Westphalia, ending the Thirty Years War—a war about dynasty, territory and the right to practice one's religion. France also watched the United Dutch Republics and the Spanish Hapsburgs signed a treaty to end the Eighty Years War (a signal of weakness, the beginning of the end of an empire…).

But these treaties and agreements were but a temporary reprieve. With France surrounded by her ancient enemy, Mazarin plotted war to break the chains that stretched the Spanish rule from Madrid, to Rome, to Burgundy and Belgium.

Meanwhile, in the summer of 1648, Parlement demanded certain rights regarding taxes. Queen Anne and Cardinal Mazarin pretended to agree to the terms, but quickly had members of parlement arrested.

The arrests had an unintended effect: Paris went into revolt. Barricades were erected. Chains were dragged across the streets. Residents of all types protested against the government's corruption and wasteful spending.

Anne, Mazarin and the young Louis fled the city for Rheims. But never one to trifle with affairs, Anne set about cowing the people of Paris: She forbade the mills and granaries surrounding the city from providing bread to the rebels (who were now called the Fronde due to the tell-tale slings they used to smash the Cardinal's windows).

Broadsheets called Mazarinades spread news, rumors and gossip among the people besieged by their own Queen. And it should be pointed out that though they were furious with the taxes and poor administration, they blamed the Cardinal and the Queen. They loved the young king and were deeply wounded when the Queen took him from their midst.

Paris starved that winter, while the young king watched from afar.

In the countryside, rebels attacked Intendants and other government officials. Robbers hid themselves in the chaos and preyed upon the weak and the strong alike.

In the city, the sharp-tongued residents contested with the skyrocketing price of food, thieves and cloak pullers, soldiers down on their luck, frustrated nobles and drunken students.

In war, pike and musket stood alongside one another on the field, holding ground against the charges of pistol-wielding cavalry. Armor grew simultaneously heavier and more useless—musket balls could perforate the sturdiest cuirass. Artillery bounced balls across the field, ripping soldiers limb from limb.

In religion, Protestant and Catholic eyed each other warily across the negotiating table. Treaties were signed, but the past 80 years were soaked in the blood of massacre in the name of God. It was only a matter of time before the ink of these agreements ran red with blood once again.

In art, the human consciousness burst forth on the canvas, stage and in song as it never had before. Shakespeare had entered the stage only a generation ago. Velazquez, Rubens and Rembrant's brushes evoked a lambent glow from their subjects. Monteverdi and Frescobaldi composed haunting madrigals to transport the soul.

It was a brutal, magical, fascinating time to be alive…

A time of adventure for the bold, willing to seek their fortune among the miseries and misfortunes of the age.

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