Flashing Blades (1984)

On one episode of the podcast, I wondered aloud about why no one had ever made a Three Musketeers RPG, then a couple weeks later, Flashing Blades (1984) showed up in a collection I bought, proving yet again that I don’t know everything. I was initially leery of it — Fantasy Games Unlimited published it and their games tend to A. Be extremely complex to my tastes and B. Set with type so small to save on printing costs that reading them gives me a headache. To my pleasure and surprise, Flashing Blades is neither terribly complex nor cramped in its layout. A miracle!

It feels rather like a Basic Role-Playing game, to me, actually, maybe with a hint of D&D and Fantasy Trip mixed in. Skill based. Professions provide a light class system which provides base skills. Rather than handle combat skills a la carte, you get packages of skills, according to the “martial training” you select (a bit like Traveller, I guess?). Hand to hand fighting is a bit complicated but, that’s kind of what you’re here for — clashing blades, kicks, parrying daggers, maybe a quick swing on the chandelier. The system is a bit clunky by our modern standards, but I think it acquits itself well in expressing the swashbuckling the game calls for.

And that is basically it. There is campaign information of course, focused on 17th century France (missed opportunity here is a little bit of info for the Spanish Main in the next century, which this system would be just as well suited for). A small scenario book rounds things out with two quickie adventures and a tavern for players to hang out at. If you are dying for Three Musketeers: The RPG, I wager you’ve got enough love of the genre to make a campaign go with that alone. Unlike a lot of FGU games, though, this one got support, with four modules. But that’s it. Bummer.

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