Literary Inspiration: Dumas Knows Adventurers All Too Well..

(Taken from the final, 3rd French edition, and using several translations for guidance – including my own)

On the first Monday of the month of April, in the year 1625, the village of Meung (in which the author of “Roman de la Rose” was born) was in such an uproar, it seemed as though the Huguenots had come to turn it into another La Rochelle* of it. Many a citizen, seeing the women flying down the main street, hearing children crying at open doors, hastened to don his cuirass, and, supporting his (somewhat uncertain) courage with musket or a polearm, directed his steps to the hostelry of the Jolly Miller, before which was gathered a compact and rapidly-increasing group both vociferous and curious.     In those days panics were common; few days passed without some city or another recording an event of this kind. There were the nobles, who made war with one another; the King, who made war with the Cardinal; and Spain, who made war with the King. In addition to these wars – concealed or open, private or public – there were brigands, adventurers+, wolves, and Huguenots, who made war upon everyone. The citizens always took up arms against the brigands, wolves and adventurers; often against the nobles and Huguenots; sometimes even against the king – but never against the Cardinal or Spain. The result of their habits, therefore, on this first Monday of April 1625, was that the citizens (hearing the clamor and seeing neither the red and gold of Spain, nor the crimson and white of the Duc de Richelieu++) rushed toward the hostelry of the Jolly Miller..

(The clamor? It was an adventurer being a dick. There follows a lot of D’Artagnan-directed exposition. Another useful passage after the footnotes.)

*La Rochelle had been the site of several major Protestant/Catholic battles already. It was in fact in open revolt against the crown in April 1625, and had been for about 2-3 months depending on who you ask. The Huguenots wouldn’t be “dealt with” by the Crown until August. They were also known as the Rohan Rebellions, after  Duc Rohan de Soubise. Duke Buckingham would, in 1627, provide mercenary and other assistance to the rebellion – Rochelle had historically been a Plantagenet possession through most of the Hundred Years’ War, and staying Protestant and “independent” would give the English a solid foothold. Interestingly, the core plot incidents recorded in Three Musketeers actually happened closer to 1650, but Dumas put them in a more interesting time period. Food for thought for you DMs out there running a historical campaign, because most of Dumas’ readers over the years have literally never known the difference.
+ I’ve translated “mendicants and thieves” here as “adventurers”. It fits. Really well.
++ Interesting how he emphasizes the noble role of His (Red) Eminence Armand Cardinal du Plessis here, where “the Cardinal” was fine for the rest of the intro. I suspect he’s subtly showing the temporal power of the Cardinal independent of both his official title (Prime Minister) and spiritual role – and quietly lumping him in with the “nobles”.

…The same day, the young man set out on his journey, provided with his parental gifts. They consisted, as we said, of fifteen Crowns* the horse+, and the letter to [the commandant of the King’s Musketeers]**…

(note that he also got a sword, which he broke in a duel and had rebladed in Paris; carried a single change of clothes; and got the recipe for a “certain Balsam, which [your mother] got from a Gypsy, and which has the power of curing all wounds that do not reach the heart”. He uses it a lot over the next few weeks, because he’s a teenager++.)

Tell me that doesn’t sound like an adventurer’s gear.

* Probably large silver pieces. He spends most of them on lodging and weapons repair over the course of the next few days.
+ A very, very bad horse, which still gets good time on the road; it starts at least one duel for our young Gascon, and he sells it against his father’s advice literally the instant he hits Paris – for three Crowns more.
** Stolen, by the Big Bad – because our hero is, wait for it, kind of a big-mouthed dickhead.
++As an herbalist, the healing ointment – insofar as they describe it – is mostly a disinfectant. It’d also keep you smelling fresh and clean. Would probably be an abortifacent if you gave it to a pregnant woman.

So, to sum up; we are presented with a fairly compelling vision of a young Fighter starting his career. He is poor, but pretty geared-up, especially with that healing salve. He dumps his sword on a “shall be splintered” roll (now there’s a thought. Letting a player “splinter” a weapon voluntarily to exploit his opponent’s honor and end a fight with a minimum of lost face)  and repairs it once he gets to town. The entire countryside is in an ideal condition for adventurers. War is everywhere, patrons seek out brave and/or stupid men to do their dirty work, and all manner of bastards exploit the timult to rob etc. The rest of the party is already established, if partially wounded, and he joins them by insulting all three of them by mistake or design (Porthos was totally on purpose, and mostly D’Artagnan being a dick) before having their (illegal) duels interrupted by a “random” encounter. He constantly wrecks or loses his shit, and what little he has rapidly becomes a motivator for the character. The DM, meanwhile, has merrily re-edited the source material to make the campaign more fun for the players, and is playing pretty damned fast and loose with continuity.

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