Today I will review Chevalier to celebrate "The Obscure RPG Day" (with the complete listing of all blog partecipating).
Chevalier was printed in 40 copies in 1976, it was a 131 page book of rules to be used with the original D&D Game (the 3 booklets abd Greyhawk). Luckly I'am the proud owner of one copy of the "1999 limited edition reprint" signed by both Ed Simbalist and Wilf Backhaus.
The authors where clearly in love with the potentiality of D&D, with feudal history and with fantasy (in particular with Professor Tolkien works), and they wanted more from their game that killing monster in a vacuum.
Since the game grow out of the original game and a lot of thought went into it, by honor of arms should be into the library of every OSR affectionate, at least as a milestone for some less trodden road.
So whats sets Chevalier apart from other D&D Supplements?
Most of the details and innovation went into tying characters to the setting by making them part of the feudal society, this was partly done by creating a system of honor and favors more binding than alignament, experience or money. Indeed there are some pages dedicated to a "influence" system used to ask favor and keep track of honor debt, other pages explain "Courtly love" and it's advantage and pitfalls.
Characters as usual are characterized by race, and as usual most characters will be humans unless you can score some very good rolls and become an Elf (and in no D&D, or derivative game, you will find a more Tolkienesque Elf), an Hobbit, a Dwarf or a Monster. But more than by race characters are characterized and strongly flavored by their social status as is befit to a feudal character, and with details on the number of siblings, your father trade and how good is your standing to the family your character will soon discover that he is far from the XXI century.
And speaking of innovations there was a reinterpretation of the classic characteristics (constitution, strength, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom and charisma) with different bonus and specific advantages, the addition of 2 new characteristics (poetic and comeliness). Also alignament become a sort of 3-18 characteristic going from 3 Saintly (Law) to 18 Diabolic (Chaos).
Then we had the differentiation between Body (real damage) and Fatigue (the usual hp), and the introduction of criticals.
A brief introduction to heraldry, chivalric orders and the role of the Knights could not be missing (and an useful read for people not in tune with this kind of topics).
Another complete innovation was magick and divine miracles, for the authors magick had to be complex and mages more in search of knowledge than way to blow up dungeons. So magick was based on long procedure of enchanting, on research and different order of mages, indeed we don't have simply wizard and cleric, we have a plethora of different magic-user (or to say it better a plethora of modes of magick: alchemy, astrology, divination, hex masters, artificiers, necromancy, conjuration, enchanters, thaumaturgy, power word, cabalaism, magick square, natural talent, drug trance, dance chant, shaman, medium) and miracle workers (clergy, templar, hospitalar, teutonic knights, hermits, friars, mendicants). Another innovation was the different way miracles worked from magick.
The way time was represented (more adventure in the summer and book-keeping in winter) so to have 1 campaign year go by in about 10 games, this would make possibles wars, sieges, the fall of kingdoms and extended campaigning. So there were rules on war, jousting and sieges, new spell and variations of old spells.
And maybe I am forgetting more than I am showing you....
In Chevalier there were all the ideas that made Chivalry & Sorcery such a great game, but at the same time the connection with D&D are very very strong making it an ideal book to plunder for every clone out there (Swords & Wizardry, Adventurer Conqueror King System, Basic Fantasy RPG).
In closing I must thank Catacomb Librarian for wonderful Obscure RPG Day!
|Obscure RPG Day|