Monday, October 8, 2012

You Can't Get Good Help Anymore

Okay, so I've played quite a few sessions of roleplay gaming and read lots of published adventures and modules.  One of the things which one rarely sees, although they were common in the pre-20th century (and still in many countries today) is servants.  One of the sure signs in the pre-20th century world that one has got a foot on the ladder of wealth and power is the employment of a servant.  In fact, you could easily judge the wealth and power of a person by the number of servants and retainers they employed.  I'm sure you've seen movies where every door in the palace has a pair of servants who just stand there to open and close the doors, or the Chinese films where the courtyard of the imperial palace has literally hundreds of court officials and servants lined up just to impress the arriving visitors.

One of my favorite scenes is in one of the Four Musketeers movie series with Michael York.  The young D'Artagnan needs to get a boat to England and has "acquired" a pass from one of the baddies.  He arrives at the port at night with his servant Planchet.  The guard examines his pass and says "But this pass is for only one person."  D'Artagnan replies "I am only one person.  This <indicates Planchet with his lantern>, is a servant."  Or, in a less serious vein, are the squires in Monty Python and the Holy Grail with their backpacks and coconuts for making horse hoof noises.

Either way, persons of power should have servants--the more powerful the more servants.  And by servants I mean "non-combatants".  Now, probably all of today's RPGs are written by people living in modern First World countries.  In such countries today very few people have servants.  They may have a nanny, housekeeper, or gardener, but that's probably about it.  Only the ultra-rich may employ large numbers of people: a crew for their yacht, hands down at the riding stable, etc.  Thus the writers of RPGs don't really think about servants for the wealthy and powerful as they would appear based on historical norms.

No comments:

Post a Comment