En Garde! Rules Summary

Angelo Domenico Malevolti Fencing Print from 1763


I will be hosting a play-by-email version of En Garde!. I will be using GDW's 1977 rule set as my basis as modified by a set of postal rules and further modified to allow a more abstract set of rules for the resolution of duelling. As always though the GM decisions are final. There is a more up-to-date version of the rules available to buy from current copyright owner which has no rule changes that I am aware of.

The important tables which you'll want to consult if you wish to play is available in a four page PDF from the En Garde! website. I do recommend that you download and use the tables as an initial reference!

As with my existing Liftoff! game there's a newspaper to record the events in the game, and there's also a list of characters in the game.

Each turn a player needs to submit a set of orders for their character. To help with that the character sheet page for each character includes an order template. Simply open the twistie on the character sheet page, fill in the details and then use the button to send the orders as an email to me./p>

Game Background

En Garde! is based on the swashbuckling era of the Three Musketeers, the Count of Monte Cristo, Cyrano de Bergerac and the Flashman novels. You will play a young gentleman newly arrived in Paris whose aim is to get to, and stay on, the top of the greasy pole.

I will attempt to guide novice players (which will be most players I expect) though their initial turns as required. Don't be surprised if, during the initial turns you seem to be sliding down the greasy pole, keeping up your status can be expensive!

Each turn there'll be a newspaper detailing the events of the month and showing the current status of the greasy pole. The links to the characters in the example newspaper's greasy pole are active and show the kind of detail I'll attempt to maintain for each character. I intend to avoid secret records as much as possible. I also intend to maintain a cadence of two real life weeks per game month - but that might need to change based on actual experience!

Players are encouraged to talk to each other before submitting their orders. However only what is written in their orders will be acted upon the GM - in particular note that if the GM doesn't know about it, it doesn't happen!

Character Attributes

Edward Teach, originally from an engraving by Benjamin Cole in A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorius Pirates (1724).

Your character's attributes will be generated by the GM and include:

Strength Rolled on 3d6 - used if/when you get involved in a duel and reflects how hard you hit
Expertise Rolled on 3d6 - used if/when you get involved in a duel and reflects how easy it is for you to hit your opponent
Constitution Rolled on 3d6 - used if/when you get involved in a duel and reflects your general health
Endurance Initially Strength multiplied by Constitution - used if/when you get involved in a duel and reflects your ability to take damage
Military Ability Rolled on 1d6 - used when you go on campaign and reflects your leadership ability
Cash How much money you have. The currency unit is the crown. You could start with as little as 9 or as much as 5000
Social Level A measure of where you are on the greasy pole. The higher the better. You could start with a social level of 1 or as high as 14

Note: I recommend gauging your initial progress by how much your social level has changed rather than where you are on the greasy pole since the random variations of the starting positions can vary quite widely.

So how do I gain (or lose) Status Levels

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (illustration of the Appleton edition)

Every game turn you need to provide the GM with orders covering your actions for the month. There will be a page for each character on this site and that page will allow you to generate a template for your orders. Each month you're in Paris1 you accumulate status points. If you achieve enough status points to equal or exceed three times your next status level your status level goes up by one2. On the other hand if your accumulated status points for the month are less than your current status level your status level will drop by one. You start each month with zero status points and each month is broken into four weeks.

Luckily there are various ways to gain status points:

  • By conspicuously spending crowns equal to three times your current status level you gain one status point. If you decide not to conspicuously consume you must still spend crowns equal to twice your current status level to maintain your lifestyle3.
  • If you are a member of a club you will gain between two and eight status points for the month depending on the club. You can only be a member of one club at a time and each club has different requirements as shown in the Clubs Table. Note that if you fail to pay the membership dues of the club for the month you will lose membership of the club.
  • You spend the week at your club (or the Bawdyhouse) and go Carousing. Spend your current social level in crowns and gain a status point.
  • You can be seen with another character (known as toadying) for a week - this requires mutual agreement and must be specified in both characters' orders. Can be combined with visiting a club and, if necessary, non-members can be guests of a club member. If you're a guest at a club you can't normally join you will gain status points. If you're toadying to someone close to your social level or above you will gain a status point (if you're toadying to someone of much lower social rank you will lose status points - presumably they will be repaying the favour in some other coin).
  • You can gamble at your club or the bawdyhouse for the week - you can make up to nine bets in a week - each bet you win you gain a status point (otherwise you lose a point). You will also gain status points based on the total amount you gamble.
  • Having a mistress will gain you a status point or more - see later for more details.
  • Being a member of a regiment will gain status points. The regiments are ranked in prestige from the Royal Foot Guards (in charge of the King's personal bodyguards) to the lowly Gascon Regiment. You will gain between 2 and 11 status points depends on your regiment and your rank. See later for more details on these.
  • Fighting a duel. Depending on your opponent and whether you have good cause for the duel, you could gain as many as seven status points (or lose up to four points). Note that you will lose status points if you refuse to issue a challenge when one would be expected (e.g. Someone else is discovered courting your mistress or is courting the same mistress; meeting a member of an unfriendly regiment to your own; a noble meets a non-noble of more than four social levels above him) and if you refuse to duel when a valid challenge is made.
  • Having a title will gain you between ten and twenty status points a month (starting the game with a title is possible but rare)
  • Being a military hero (i.e., having gone on campaign and been mentioned in dispatches or better) will gain you status points every month
  • Providing useful information for the newspaper will gain you a status point at the whim and discretion of the GM.


You can borrow money from other characters (only by agreement obviously) or from local moneylenders. Gentlemen do not charge other gentlemen any interest (but can demand payment at any time after three months). Moneylenders charge 10% interest every six months and if unable to repay at the endof the six months must join the frontier regiments

Female Companionship

Margot Grahame as Milady de Winter in The Three Musketeers - publicity still

Every month you must have a female companion of some sort or lose status points4. You could go to the bawdyhouse (which will satisfy the female companionship requirement at a cost of your status level in crowns), but ideally you would have a mistress. To do so she will need courting. To do so will cost crowns equal to three times her social level and is not certain. In fact even if you are of a higher social level than your (would-be) companion there is still a good chance of failure. If your social level is more than six levels lower than the good lady's you will automatically fail.

If two gentleman court the same lady on the same week, both will spend their money, both will fail and both will have cause for a duel.

If you court a lady who is already the companion of another gentleman you are less likely to succeed and, if discovered that will be cause for a duel (if you succeed you become the lady's companion replacing the other gentleman who will, obviously, have cause for a duel).

You may take your companion with you on a visit to your club for the week as long as you buy her drinks (at a cost of her social level in crowns).

Some ladies have exceptional beauty. You gain an additional status point if you are her companion. Some ladies are exceptionally wealthy. If you are her companion she will give small gifts if her social level is higher than yours. If not you will need to support her lifestyle at a cost of three times her social level. Some ladies are exceptionally influential. These will help you when you try to influence NPC officials in various actions. A given lady may have all or none of these exceptional attributes.

The military

Depiction of the Cardinal's musketeers, the great rivals of the King's musketeers.

The military is an excellent means to literally promote yourself. There are seventeen regiments ranging in status from the Royal Foot Guards to the lowly Gascon Regiment. Each regiment has an panoply of officers. You can apply to any regiment but obviously can only be a member of one regiment at a time (if you wish to change regiments you must resign from your existing regiment first). If your application is accepted (which will depend on your social level and your luck) you can buy a commission in the regiment rather than have to stay as a private. Note that the position must be available (i.e., not occupied by another character or by a named NPC). Note that the costs on the regiment chart is cumulative, i.e., to become a major you first need to buy a sub-alternship then a captaincy and then finally the major's position.

Some of the regiments are cavalry regiments. If you join a cavalry regiment you will to have a horse (Majors and above need three horses) and hire a groom to look after the horse(s).

Privates must spend two weeks in the month on duty with his regiments. Sub-alterns must spend one week a month. Captains and above need not spend any time being on duty (rank hath its privileges). Privates and sub-alterns may apply to their major to be excused from one week of duty per month.

Each regiment has another regiment with which it is friends and a second with which it regards as enemies. This affects when or if challenges to duels can be validly issued.

Each summer a portion of the army is sent on campaign. If your regiment is one of those sent to the front you will join the campaign and leave Paris for the duration. While out of Paris you gain your pay and allowances, but don't have to spend any money or maintain status points (their status level remains unchanged while out of Paris). At the end of the campaign the results of the campaign will be resolved. You could be a hero and be mentioned in dispatches, gain loot or even a promotion. Alternatively you could die (I will describe the options when the summer turns arrive). Your military ability will affect your personal outcome and could influence the overall result of the campaign if you hold a senior rank.

The frontier regiments

As the frontiers of France need guarding and patrolling all the year round, you are always permitted to join the frontier regiments for a non-regular season (autumn, winter, spring) of campaigning. Again the character will be out of Paris for the duration of the season.

Last updated: January 12, 2023 at 11:54 am
21st November 2017
You need three times the next level in status points to go up a social level
22nd February 2020
Fix typos and faulty markup
10th January 2023
Fix another typo


  1. Characters can be absent from Paris for a variety of reasons, if so their status level does not change while away from Paris
  2. So to go from Social Level 4 to Social Level 5 you need 15 status points
  3. If you don't you will lose one status level.
  4. Which steadily increase the more months you go without female companionship.