Montaigne, a land embroiled in wars with Castille and Ussura, lies at the cultural and political heart of Thea. Ruled by the Sun King, a self-declared Emperor who openly practices sorcery. He has brought disarray to Church of the Prophet, the Archbishops in hiding their Cardinal missing feared murdered by l’Empereur’s bodyguard. This is France reflected in a twisted mirror with musketeers, courtly intrigue and downtrodden peasants.
To ease players into their Gallic roles there are new character templates for musketeers, woodsmen, spies and sewer hunters. A guide to playing Montaingne characters is included with tips on how to cut a suitably dashing figure. Heroes may come from powerful families with distinct flavours and inherent advantages and disadvantages. The musketeers are available for players who secretly yearn to be D’Artagnan.
The mundane description of the land, its people and culture are filled out like Porthos’ trousers. The broad detail is solid but a little flabby in the writing. There are only so many short descriptions of towns I can read before I hunger for a little more meat on the skeletons bones. Three new ship plans are provided and annoyingly, as with previous supplements, without any details for their use in play.
A destiny spread, new swordsmen schools, expanded Porte magic and mass combat rules are included. Magically and mechanically enhanced puzzle swords are introduced to please gadget fans. A set of new and detailed rules ease the burden of running courtly intrigue. A chart to track player’s relationship with their ever-changing enemies and allies is at the heart of this mechanism. A variety of actions including extorting money, hosting balls, assassination and ridicule can all change these relationships. The chart allows the ripples from the changes to be readily seen without impinging on a players need to play their part.
The spark of the book comes in the Game Master’s section. Here some of Thea’s darkest secrets are revealed. The purpose of some of the characters described earlier becomes apparent although some remain irritating ciphers. The new monsters are more inspired than the insipid creations in previous books; I particularly like the homicidal squirrels and the teleporting wolves.
The standards of layout, artwork and writing maintain the high quality of the 7th Sea line. At first I feared this was a dull supplement simply detailing the routine. However, in the end Montaigne shines a light on a land where Dumas’s dictum of “l’action et l’amour” can come true.