|Dirck Hals [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
Clubs are a good way for En Garde characters to cultivate a certain number of status points per month. Clubs have membership requirements, usually a minimum social level. They also have monthly dues; the more exclusive a clubs is, the higher the dues are. If a character leaves a club, he may rejoin it only after three months. The rules make it sound as though such departures are voluntary, but what about a character who fails to pay dues? Does he have to wait three months or can he rejoin as soon as he has the money? What about a character who no longer meets the membership criteria? Does he still get to be in the club as long as he pays his dues? Is he expelled?
So, assuming one is a member in good standing, clubs provide some automatic status points; there is no need to visit the club during any given month. Of course, a character may visit his club; this counts as an action (therefore a week in game time). While doing so, a character may engage in carousing; in other words, spend crowns on 'liquid refreshment' to gain a status point. Characters may also gamble (against the house, not among themselves). Characters get status points for winning and lose status points for losing; however, characters get status points based upon the amount that they bet regardless if they win or lose. Finally, a character may gain status points from toadying – being the guest of another character at a club where the toadying character does not meet the membership requirements.
As discussed in a previous post, each En Garde character has certain monetary costs he must pay monthly in order to maintain a lifestyle appropriate for his social level (e.g.: servants, residence, clothes, et al.). Failure to do so causes a loss of one social level. En Garde characters have another monthly need which, if not met, imposes a loss of two cumulative status points; so, two for the first month, four for the second, six for the third, etc. Obviously, this is a very important need. This need is female companionship.
There are two means by which “characters may fulfill the female companionship requirements.” One way is to use an action to visit a bawdyhouse. Similar to clubs, a character may gamble and purchase liquid refreshment at a bawdyhouse; in fact, the purchase of liquid refreshment is mandatory. Unlike clubs, characters gain or lose status points at gambling only by winning or losing, not based upon the amount of crowns bet. Female companionship costs a number of crowns equal to a character's social level. After visiting a bawdyhouse, there is a chance that a character will be “set upon by footpads and relieved of his money.”
The other way for a character to obtain female companionship is to use an action to visit his mistress. Of course, characters do not begin the game with mistresses; a mistress “belongs” to a character only after the character has successfully courted her. At the commencement of the game, a number of mistresses are created equal to the number of player characters. Thus, mistresses are a finite resource; there may be competition to win the hand of a given mistress and with competition comes the possibility of dueling. Each mistress has a social level of anywhere from three to eighteen. Each attempt to court a mistress takes a week and has a cost in crowns equal to three times the social level of the courted mistress. Courting is never certain; a die roll is made to see if the courting is successful. The difference in social level between the mistress and the character determines the difficulty of the roll. It is more difficult to win the hand of a mistress whose social level exceeds that of the character just as it is less difficult to successfully court a mistress of lesser social level. A character may spend additional funds in order to increase his chances, but there is always a chance of failure. Once a character succeeds at courting a mistress, he can keep her only by spending a number of crowns equal to three times the mistress' social level per month. It is possible to court another character's mistress and 'steal her away' but, as one might expect, such behavior invites a duel.
There are benefits to having a mistress beyond female companionship. Every month a character keeps a mistress, he gets a status point (more if the mistress' social level exceeds his own). Each mistress may have one or more special attributes (there is a one-in-three chance of having any given attribute). Any mistress with a high enough social level has some amount of influence, but a mistress with a special attribute of influence has influence regardless of her social level (or has influence in addition to what she already has). A character gains an additional point of status per month if his mistress has the special attribute of beauty. Characters need not spend crowns to support a mistress with a special attribute of wealth; in fact, if the character's social level is less than hers, she will give him crowns on a monthly basis. When courting a mistress with wealth, a character must spend the usual amount (in order to get her attention) but cannot modify the roll for success by spending additional funds.
Obviously, with a greater number of players, there is a greater selection of mistresses; regardless, the pool is static. One supposes that when a character dies in En Garde (and some characters will certainly perish), the player generates a new character and thus stays in the game. I suggest that, when a character dies, a random mistress is removed from the game and a new mistress is created to take her place. (The removed mistress doesn't necessarily die, we can say that she joins a convent or whatever.) I think it would help to keep things interesting.