National Razor

8 May 1999 Player Handbook
By John Rutherford


It's Summer 1791 in Paris. No war or guillotines yet, (that cover is a ghost of one possible future…) and King Louis is here in the Tuileries Palace, the Father of his People, or maybe their Prisoner. You're a French 'Deputy' in the 'Convention'. (Member of Parliament.) Or maybe you're a French General, journalist or someone else. On the day, see your brief and stick your name badge on. France is trying to find a stable form of Government, and the current favourite is a constitutional Monarchy. How to win…?
*Ensure that France has the 'best' possible Government by the end of the game?
*End up on the winning side?
As usual in Megagames, it's largely up to you to define your own objectives. Find out who your allies are and get scheming.

1.Objectives and brief description of the game 3
2. Introduction 3
3.Timetable & Turn Sequence 5
4.Game Control 6
5.Location and Communication 6
6.Other Principles of the Game 7
7.What will be in my Player Pack? 8
8.How do I influence the progress of the game? 8
8.1- Influence Tokens 8
8.2- Political Clubs 8
8.3 - The National Convention 9
8.3.1 Speechmaking 9
8.3.2 Voting 10
8.3.3 Key Topics 11
8.3.4 Political Groupings 11
8.4- The Executive 13
9. Background: recent history and 1791 13
10. Money 14
11.Generals Brief 14
12.Journalists Brief 16
13. Bibliography, websites, acknowledgements 17
Appendices 18
Room Layout 19

1. Objectives and brief description of the Game
This game is designed to represent, in a few hours, one possible course of the French Revolution in its central phase from 1791 to 1794. Players represent the crucial political and military figures of the day, and their actions, and decisions on issues defined by the game as 'key' (see page 11) will affect the course of the Revolution. The intention is to allow the possibility of a range of possible outcomes, which do not necessarily duplicate history. Game systems are mostly 'closed' or run by Umpires, hence hidden from the players. The main activity is debating and voting in the Paris 'Convention'; the connected activities which may affect the outcome of these votes, include caucus or party discussions, deal-making, propaganda, war and diplomatic contacts. The form of the game is a large central committee game (Convention) with connected smaller committees, ad hoc or predetermined, and simple map games to determine military outcomes and effects of unrest and rioting.
The flow of information in the game is crucial, and therefore it is fairly heavily umpired. However, some of the difficulties players may experience are a deliberate effort on the part of the Designer to give a flavour of the problems faced by the historical figures and are up to the players to solve, or to circumvent.

2. Introduction
I will state now that this is a very controversial period of history, which attracted me in the first place to running a game set during it! The game inevitably represents my views on what happened and what Could Happen. Apologies if it doesn't chime with your own views of how it should happen! Players will mostly be Deputies (Members) of the French National Convention (Parliament) in the period 1791 to 1794, one of the most frenetic periods of French and indeed of world history. To make it comprehensible within the frame of a day I have simplified, e.g. National Assembly and Legislative Assembly are both subsumed into 'Convention' – and many highly complex issues are simplified in the field of 'politics'. I hope the flavour of the controversies of the period are retained. The military outcome system is also designed to focus on the debate of the period rather than be a detailed battlefield resolution . The aim is lots of flexibility to allow the players to change the course of history!
Your objectives Broadly, to ensure France survives with the best possible system of Government ('best' being determined by your political views.) You may decide to make sure that you yourself have a happy outcome in terms of wealth or glory. The game is one of forming alliances with like-minded people, striking deals, outmanoeuvring your opponents. By reading this handbook you will see the broad initial objectives of your own political group, if you have one; you will also have personal objectives issued to you on the day.
In addition, for the soldiers and journalists among you there are 'professional' objectives but fundamentally it's the same game, and certain boundaries may be crossed as the game unfolds.

The form of Government the game ends with will not necessarily be the same as the beginning. After all, this is a Revolution!

Closed The aim is for most game systems to be 'closed' – you will say or write briefly what you want to do, and the Umpires will report back to you and the rest of the players on the results. You may have the chance to throw dice sometimes. The exception to this is the voting system in the National Convention itself; you'll have an Umpire to get you started and help organise and count votes in the early stages, but it is largely UP TO YOU to make the Convention function. If it doesn't, France will start to slip even further into chaos...

Personalities With a few exceptions (King Louis, Mirabeau/Riqueti (his chief adviser, allowed to live longer in this game than he did historically) and La Fayette ( a hero of the American war and National Guard general) ) all character names are 'invented' to avoid problems with hindsight – again, apologies to those who wanted to step into a giant's shoes, but (to mix a metaphor) I fear it may be a target on your back! Besides, so if you aim to be the new Danton or Robespierre you have as good a chance as anyone of doing it, without any Burden of Expectation.

A plea from the Game Designer: take it easy
In games that simulate political controversy and conflict, which may lead to accusations of treason or worse, passions may run high and I would not like any real unpleasantness to break out! Please remember that you are playing roles, and that if you are stitched up or 'guillotined' by the opposition, try to take it in good part and remember that you will be 'recycled' back into the game.

EXAMPLES: In the handbook you will find stories of Armand Gribot and his colleague Lucien Untel, two hapless Deputies.

3. National Razor: Timetable and Turn Sequence
Each turn is forty minutes long; three turns represent one Year. The Convention is programmed to be in session for the first half-hour of each turn.
Remember the clock will keep moving on and you will need to plan carefully to have any chance of getting things done in time.

0930 Arrival and Check-in
10 00 Greetings; game starts with twenty minutes or so to read briefs and familiarise.

10.30 1 SUMMER 1791 Convention: 10.30 – 11.00
11.10 2 AUTUMN/WINTER 1791 Convention: 11.10 – 11.40

11.50 3 SPRING 1792 Convention: 11.50 – 12.20
12.30 4 SUMMER 1792 Convention: 12.30 – 1.00
1.10 5 AUTUMN/WINTER 1792 Convention: 1.10 – 1.40

1.50 6 SPRING 1793 Convention: 1.50 – 2.20
2.30 7 SUMMER 1793 Convention: 2.30 – 3.00
3.10 8 AUTUMN/WINTER 1793 Convention: 3.10 – 3.40

3.50 9 SPRING 1794 Convention: 3.50 – 4.20
4.30 10 SUMMER 1794 Convention: 4.30 – 5.00
5.10* 11 AUTUMN/WINTER 1794 Convention: 5.10 – 5.40

5.50* 12 SPRING 1795

*Approximate only – exact finishing time will be kept secret to avoid 'last turn madness'

4. Game Control
The Team of Umpires will, as far as they can given the constraints of time, give you feedback on the consequences of your actions and help to resolve what you can do. Please remember the Umpires are outnumbered by the players. The essence of the game is for players to interact with other players, with Umpires sharing their time among you all, so don't try to monopolise the nearest Umpire. Also, please don't try asking another Umpire until you get the answer you want!

Umpire – Game Control superintends the overall flow of the game and rules if necessary on the effects of votes and other player actions
Umpire- Convention Politics initially acts as 'President' of the Convention and oversees votes and all other matters relating to the Convention's operations
Umpire – Royal Politics helps run the Executive, the King's affairs and the civil service generally
Umpire – Mob represents Mob (or sans-culotte) opinion and actions
Umpire – Military (may be more than one) runs the military reform, mobilisation and combat system including suppression of tumults
Umpire – Foreign Powers (may be more than one) represents them and aids the Umpire- Military
Umpire – Journalism passes information, especially to the journalist players and helps with production of news

As the game progresses there may be re-allocation of Umpire roles.

5. Location and Communication
1. Every player will be issued with a personal counter, which must be placed on a Map location where he is considered to be during that turn. Most will be in Paris; a Deputy will be considered to be either at his Club, in the Convention, or living close by. As the turns are a season or two long, there is scope for movement during the turn – but check with an Umpire before you move outside Paris.
2. Players must note that to take part in the game they cannot 'hide'… you are by nature public people. To hide or run away is to, in effect, leave the game, even if only temporarily. Talk to one of the Umpire Team before trying anything like this.
There is no 'Parliamentary Protection' against arrest in the game. Historically it may have been so, but as the turns are meant to cover several months, there would have to be times when the Deputy leaves the chamber, and that is when the arrest is deemed to take place. Therefore, when an arrest is planned, the Umpires will ask the player concerned to leave the Chamber, and he will NOT be dragged screaming from the Tribune!
3. Certain groups start with the advantage of their 'own' space – this is deliberate. For example, the Jacobin Club is open ONLY to card-carrying Jacobins and their invited guests. The Tuileries Palace, where Louis resides, is open ONLY to those invited by Louis. Other Groups are less fortunate and make do with bits of the main playing area.
4. To enter any room or area where you have not been invited is a major step- and may involve the use or threat of force (NB in game terms only please!) Discuss it first with an Umpire. Usual megagame rules – if a group are talking, do not eavesdrop or gooseberry without being invited – especially into a 'club' e.g. Jacobins, which are Member only! The King is under an ambiguous 'house-arrest' in 1791 – but he is entitled to privacy and you are NOT free to barge in with him.
5. Having yourself accompanied. You may try to add stature to yourself by asking for an escort of Army, National Guard, or Paris Mob – depending on your politics. This must be indicated on the Map where your Personal Figure is – and remember you will NOT necessarily be able to control them, especially the Mob.
6. Spying and intelligence – ask the players, as Umpires will not do this for you, although they may give some feedback on how non-played characters are reacting.
7. Journalism – note that there are no laws of libel and the Declaration of Rights guarantees freedom of speech – so newspapers can print whatever they like.

6. Other Principles of the Game

As usual in megagames, wanting something to occur will not necessarily make it happen. You must plan carefully and consider all the consequences of your actions.

Use the name badge please, and sign letters etc in that name as that's how Umpires will be able to refer to in their Umpire Guides and everyone else will keep track of you.

A Little Respect for Deputies – so as to allow everyone a game! Especially at the beginning of the game, please remember that most of you are members of an elected 'Parliament' and you have some respect for each other, no matter what your political opinions. Tempting though it may be to 'dispose' of your enemies, they will be recycled back into the game, perhaps in an even more awkward form, so be sparing and shrewd in your use of violence.

Death or Retirement. Note that if players are 'killed' or retire from the game for some reason, they may be reintroduced into the game as a different person with different views and game abilities. Please give these people a chance to play and don't instantly treat them as automatic enemies; they are not necessarily so.
Example: Armand Gribot is arrested and condemned for treason. He makes an impassioned Royalist speech and is guillotined. The player then reappears, 'recycled' as Gaston Nouveau, who is a Republican and NOT a Royalist! Gaston applies for membership of the Jacobin Club and is accepted by those who had Armand guillotined.
7. What will be in my Player Pack? (on the day of the game)

Name badge, (colour-coded for Deputies!)
Character background and objectives
Personal Figure (more likely to be a foamboard counter)
Voting Card and a List of Motions (for Deputies)
Influence Tokens (likely to be wine-corks…!)
Royal Warrant (for Generals) with special badges
Membership Card of Political Clubs (if any)
Letters, warrants, other background details (if any)

8. How do I influence the progress of the game?

'National Razor' does not give many players specific 'jobs' to do – the impact you make will be partly determined by your own decisions about what is important.

8.1 Influence Tokens
Every player will get a small number of these tokens. You may attempt to do something, or influence the outcome of some event, and the chance of success is increased by using your personal 'clout' in some way. This is represented by handing in the Token -permanently- to the appropriate Umpire along with a word (or brief note) of what the desired outcome should be. The Umpire will determine the results and pass them to you and other players as appropriate. Only one Influence Token may be played by each player each turn. Tokens may be passed to other players. Some players will be issued with extra Tokens as the game progresses to indicate their increasing influence; e.g. if they make successful speeches in the Convention or are associated with a great national victory, whether political or military.

Example: Lucien uses one of his Influence Tokens to stir up a riot in Paris in Spring 1792. Once handed over, it's 'spent'. However, the Umpire rules that the riot was successful and has made Lucien more popular with the Mob, so the Umpire gives Lucien a new Influence Token which he can use in Summer 1792 or save till later.
Armand uses one of his Tokens to try to send arms to Royalist rebels. The Umpire rules that it fails. Armand now only has one Influence Token left.

8.2 The Political Clubs
Two political groups begin the game organised as 'clubs' with Membership cards, and the Jacobins have a separate room for their meetings.
These Clubs were in some ways the forerunners of modern political parties; their main functions in game terms is to allow players to settle on a 'party line' with supposedly like-minded people. Some players start the game as members; others begin as uncommitted and can ask to join one or other. Note that there is no right to be admitted. If you want to start a NEW club, this is possible. Talk to the Umpires.


8.3.1 Speechmaking in the Convention
Historically, the French Deputies made interminable speeches, full of flowery prose, rhetoric and bombast. For the purposes of the game, speeches must be kept short. Even a thirty-second effort could swing a vote!
To represent the 'rhetorical' tradition, players will be rewarded for speechmaking. Umpire votes will tend to go the way of the best speeches, and in some cases extra Influence Tokens will be distributed. Even if a vote is lost, the speeches will have an effect! The Game Designer requests that all players – especially the journalists – try to regard speeches as important.

What makes a good 'National Razor' speech?

*Short and to the point. Use the Motion Number from the List you get on the day.
*Use references to heroes, e.g. of Ancient Greece or Rome. A particular favourite for Republicans is Brutus, First Consul of the Roman Republic, who had his sons executed for plotting a return to Monarchy. William Tell and Mutius Scaevola were also popular. Check your personal objectives to see if you have a personal favourite, or bring your own if you're a classicist.
* Patriotic, with offers and dramatic gestures of self-sacrifice.
*Calls for simplicity, natural existence, virtue…
*Effective insults and jokes

Try to put some bombastic historical references in, and lay it on thick!

Example: Lucien Untel speaks in favour of Motion 94.
"Citizens! I will pour out the last drop of my heart's blood and die for the Revolution and for France, our Glorious Fatherland, as did the heroes who slew the bloodsucking tyrant Caesar! Vote for Motion 94 to ensure patriotic glory for us all by vanquishing the modern Tarquin, that slave of the Austrian Tyranny Committee, and giving us a Republic! Or let me die now!" (points pistol at own head).

Armand Gribot replies.
My brother Deputies, vote against Motion 94, for it insults the Father of Our People, our Leader in War and Fount of Justice, anointed before God, and with whom we will all march to victory in our Legions of Glory! The French people are themselves thus, er, affronted , this we must never do. Reject the power-hungry opportunists! Save the Monarchy! [Convention Deputies boo]

8.3.2 Voting in the Convention

Each player who is a 'Deputy' has ten votes. The number required to make a majority will vary according to the number of players on the day, and will be monitored by the Convention Umpire, who will initially act as 'President of the Convention', a 'Speaker' who aims to ensure fair play and efficiency. The President also ensures votes are counted and results are recorded (and may engage Tellers to help.) Non-deputies may speak by invitation. Voting must be in person, and you cannot allow others to use your votes in your absence.

Traditions of the National Convention

Even though it is very young, the French national parliament already has some traditions you are expected to observe. Many are based on the then current understanding of Roman Republican traditions.
1. 'Parties' tend to sit together – the areas of the chamber have nicknames – the more extreme Radicals sit at the back and are nicknamed 'The Mountain' while the Moderates sit in the middle and are nicknamed 'The Plain' or 'The Swamp'.
2. Speakers tend to come to the front and speak standing at a lectern or a table (The Tribune) rather than from their seats like British M.P.s.
3. Noisy barracking and cheering is normal, but every Deputy is offered a fair hearing.
4. Speeches are regarded as extremely important, and a good speech will be well received and will boost the speaker's credibility hugely.

8.3.3 The Key Topics

Political debate will be by debating Motions (see Player Pack on the day) on one of the following 'key' topics, repeated on the Back Cover. Players must be aware that altering the wording of Motions, raising brand-new topics, not sticking to the Motion's subject matter or other ploys may cause delay that will make the Convention unworkable.

A. THE KING. Constitutional position of the monarch, and how is legitimacy of the Government to be settled?
B. RELIGION. Autonomy and power of the Roman Catholic Church, Papal land, State Religion?
C. RIGHTS OF MAN. Hold, extend or restrict these Principles?
D. ARMY REFORM. 'Modern' style Army or 'Old' style Line Army?
E. BREAD AND JOBS. Should State attempt to provide them and interfere in trade to do so?
F. PUBLIC ORDER. To be provided by 'The People' as a Mob, militia or Police, or by the Army?
G. TAXATION. How heavy and on whom should it fall?
H. TRAITORS. As defined by those in Power, and what should be done to them?
I. PARIS. How centralised should Power be?
J. FOREIGN POLICY. Especially attitude to War and casus belli.

Given your Objectives, it will be up to you to decide exactly what 'line' to take on these topics, but you should bear in mind two important principles:
1. Radical and swift change will put great strain on the French nation and may not be achievable in the way you intend.
2. If there are policies seemingly contradictory to each other, (e.g. State involvement in some things and not others) this will affect how easily the changes will be made.

You will probably find, as did the politicians of the day, that there is too much to sort out and not enough time, so you will need to plan and prioritise carefully. Try to keep debate brief and to the point, and you must where possible make use of the prepared 'motions' to speed decisions in the Convention and help the Umpires keep track of what you have decided.

The Umpires will control a block of votes, which will vary in size depending on the number of players, but will be about 10% of the Convention. They represent a centre ground of unsophisticated Deputies. These votes will be heavily swayed by the quality of the speeches made!

Umpires will monitor the results of the voting, and will represent the reactions of the Mob, French civil servants, businessmen, common soldiers and all other non-played characters. But Umpires will NOT do all the work of deciding how to solve the problems of running a complex Nation with deep-seated problems – that's the job of the National Convention.

Example: Lucien and Armand vote.
Lucien votes with his fellow Club members – they have decided in their initial caucus meeting which Motions they want to see passed. Armand is not in a Club and decides for himself. After five minutes of speechmaking and debate, it's time to vote on Motion 94 – there's a lot of business to get through in this half-hour session of the Convention. Motion 94: Lucien votes AYE by raising his hand; he checks who votes with him and is pleased to see a 'Moderate' chum he'd been working on do so! When the NAY vote happens, Armand decides to 'abstain' after all and slopes off to have a coffee. This is noticed by his erstwhile allies…

8.3.4 Main Political Groupings

Cordelier. Very Radical; also known as 'The Society of the Rights of Man'. The Cordeliers stand for a massive extension of the social programme of the Revolution, Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood. The principles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man (see Appendix A) are paramount. They are the core of the 'Democratic Movement' which stands for the 1789 principles of popular sovereignty and hence are reliant for clout upon the politically active members of the working classes (the sans-culottes, or 'Mob' to their enemies.) They have a taste for using Popular Petitions to bring pressure to bear. In addition, they are concerned that the Revolution is under threat from foreign tyranny. Newspaper: Iron Mouth.

CORDELIER Starting Position in terms of the Key Topics above, with much variation among individuals:
A: Republic B: State Control C: Extend hugely D: Modern Army E: State Control F: People's Militia G: Heavy, on the rich H: Stern treatment of 'Austrian spies' I: Paris J: War if necessary to protect Revolution

Jacobin. Intellectual, rational, guardians of bourgeois gains of 1789. Variety of views from moderate to democratic; emphasis on moral purity, discipline, self-sacrifice. Some with Republican sympathies, others wish to see a Constitutional monarchy on 1791 Constitution lines. (See Appendix B) Club members are mostly Radicals, desiring to guarantee bourgeois gains of the Revolution and guard some of the principles of 1789, especially the destruction of aristocratic privilege, while replacing 'democracy' with 'meritocracy'. Some Royalist members. Exclusive and intellectual in tone. Disagree with the Cordeliers' emphasis on social issues and view their democratic populism as dangerous. The Mob in Paris is a dangerous force.
Newspaper: People's Friend.

Jacobin Starting Position in terms of the Key Topics above, with much variation among individuals:
A: 1791 Constitution B: 1791 Constitution C: Hold. D:Unsure. E: NO. F: National Guard G: Moderate, on all H: Immoral people must be punished I: Paris J: War is dangerous and difficult to control

Monarchist. Strong supporters of Louis, have declared wish to see the Father of his People back to the centre of National Life. Enemies of Cordeliers and Republicans of all types. Difficult to pin down their exact views, but many Monarchists would like to see an 'English' style of Government with an Upper House and a powerful monarch. Certainly, they all think the Revolution has gone quite far enough! Louis himself: no one is certain of his real opinions but he has been making noises sympathetic towards the 1791 Constitution while doing very little to co-operate with the Deputies. Newspaper: King's Friend.

Monarchist Starting Position in terms of the Key Topics above, with much variation among individuals:
A: Royal power B: RC Church autonomy C: Restrict D:Old style Royal Army E: No F: Royal Army G: Light to moderate, on the bourgeois and poor H: anti-Royalists are traitors I: Where the King is, Paris, or preferably Versailles J: King to decide

Moderate: a large Group either uncertain of what line to adopt or broadly in favour of the Constitution of 1791; many are unaffiliated to any Group, or lukewarm Jacobin Club members.

Example: Armand Gribot asks to join the Jacobin Club; they decide to admit him after allowing a black-ball (any member may object, none do.) Lucien Untel later resigns from the Jacobins deciding he dislikes the discipline, and tries to start his own Club, based on his own eccentric views, which he calls the 'Untelins'. He gets three followers who agree to vote with Lucien and use their influence jointly.

8.4 The Executive
Because there is separation of executive from legislature, no Deputy is entitled to be a Government Minister. The key members of the executive [at the start of the game] will be represented by the Umpire (Royal Politics) and other members of the Umpire Team.
Minister of Finance: taxation, budgets.
Minister of War: Army and Navy
Minister of the Interior: Police, Justice
Under the Constitution of 1791 the responsibility for appointing or removing them rests with the King, with the selections being confirmed by the Convention.

9. Background

Recent history
Here are what I think are some of the historical events that made the situation what it is in 1791.

Seven Years War: humiliation of 1756. Empire mostly lost.
To 1780s: American War: success and pride restored, but at huge cost; France effectively bankrupt.
The perceived injustice of the Ancien Regime; nobles given huge privilege and exempted from taxation. Peasant hardship.
New political ideas; liberty, equality, brotherhood.
The economic rise of the bourgeoisie (urban middle class) excluded from political power.
Economic chaos, France bankrupt, weak leadership by Louis.
1789 The Estates-General (old style-Parliament) summoned; fails to solve problems; Deputies swear to represent Nation (Tennis-Court Oath).
The Bastille – Mob violence.
Declaration of Rights of Man agreed; destruction of aristocratic privilege.
1790 AUTUMN/WINTER Work begins on creating a new Constitution. King tries to run the country on an ad hoc basis, his Ministers mere ciphers.
Royalist soldiers ' Versailles Orgy' of anti-Revolutionary sentiment leads to rioting and King being returned to Paris by La Fayette's National Guard.
1791 SPRING Pope condemns the new Constitution – causing 'loyalty' split among French Catholics and religious crisis.
Louis prevented from leaving Paris for St Cloud, making his 'prisoner' status more apparent.

SUMMER 1791 - Current political situation: What is being discussed?

The political situation is very fluid and there is little agreement about what the priorities are. Deputies will spend their time in their Clubs, or in the Convention. Generals will either be at the Military School in Paris (Champ de Mars) or with the politicians, or out on the borders where the majority of the Army are. Journalists will tend to go where the stories are and all start at the Convention. Any or all may meet for coffee in the famous 'salons' where talk may be more relaxed and informal.

The 1791 Constitution (see Appendix B) is being debated. It aims to protect rights of Property, while being fairly democratic (perhaps intermediate between Britain and USA.)
The King has very little power of patronage compared to pre-Revolution ; he has power of 'suspensive veto' (so can delay laws for two years). He appoints his own Generals and Ministers, but needs approval of the Convention to declare war.
Peasants' and sans-culottes' burdens were not wholly removed in 1789; the Rights of Property have proved paramount so far, and many heavy rents and other financial burdens were untouched. There is still a great deal of hardship in Paris and the Provinces.
Attitude to the Catholic Church. Severe division has been caused by the events of the past year. France insisted all clergy agree to the new Constitution, and about half did so; but the Pope then condemned it. Therefore there is a breach between the clergy 'juring' (loyal to France) and 'non-juring' (loyal to the Pope, regarded by some as suspect in their patriotism.) There is increasing suspicion of all 'loyal' Catholics as potentially disloyal to France.

10. Money
Personal Wealth will be handled abstractly – no starting issue of game notes or coins. If gaining heaps of cash is a personal objective of yours, (and note that it wasn't for nearly all politicians of this era) discuss with an umpire how this will be represented.


As a Military Player, you will of course be active if (and when!) WAR breaks out, but until then, your task is to ensure France's military preparedness. The military Umpires will guide you in the process of doing this. Your relationship with the Politicians in Paris will be crucial and you must pay attention to this.

Military Background
France is at peace, but is in a state of extreme turmoil. King Louis is nominally the Supreme Commander. There are no Line Army troops in the capital. France is near bankruptcy (is bankrupt, according to some) and administrative chaos reigns. The Line Army is currently approx. 50 000 men. Most noble officers have fled. Morale and equipment levels are poor, and desertion levels are high because the troops are not paid regularly. Belgian Frontier Army: 30 000. Rhineland Army: 10 000 Alpine Frontier 2 000 Coastal Defence (West) Army 8 000. In size the Army has rarely been smaller; it is about the same size as the British army (!) and less than half the size of the Austrian army. It is desperately short of munitions, is ill-clad and unpaid. However, it is technically proficient, although short of cavalry officers, and well-educated. It has a good artillery park. France has a superb series of Vauban fortresses, especially in the North. There are other irregular pro-Government volunteer units scattered around; maybe 20 000 men. They are often led by local revolutionary firebrands. There are also a few Line Army units in the colonies., 10 000 men nearly all in San Domingo (Caribbean sugar - slave estates, French Hispaniola.)

The National Guard (of amateur bourgeois soldiers equipped locally, who act as police) numbers approx. 50 000 and is spread thinly across France except for a sizeable unit, nominally 10 000 under La Fayette to control the Paris mob. The Commander is authorised to declare Martial Law to Suppress Tumults by flying a Red Flag.

The French Navy has seventy battleships and a similar number of frigates, giving it three-quarters the firepower of the British navy. Bases are at Brest (Atlantic) and Toulon. (Med) Coastal defences are excellent. It is desperately short of skilled officers but is regarded as a powerful force with excellent vessels.

Potential enemies. The strategic problem is that movement between fronts is easier for enemies than it is for you. The good news is that there are no imminent threats, except perhaps the ιmigrι army.
Ιmigrι army (Royalist) has 20 000 men, mostly officers. HQ Koblenz.
Austria and Holy Roman Empire, 285 000, of which 10 000 in Austrian Netherlands (modern Belgium.)
Prussia 200 000
(Prussia, Austria and Russia are heavily involved in Poland and are not deemed to be a major threat this year.)
Britain 50 000 (mostly abroad) + that dreadful Navy
Spain 80 000 (over half abroad)

Problems: at current wage rates, France is supposed to be able easily to maintain her current Line Army and Navy from general taxation. In reality, the State is bankrupt; the soldiers are expected to live off the land or make do in some other way. To add to your difficulties Revolutionary principles must be respected; for example you have been under pressure from Paris to have elected officers. There is also a strong anti-conscription sentiment in the Convention.

Basic Military Principles agreed by all professional soldiers:
Professional troops are best, steady, well-trained.
Armies should ideally be well-equipped and supplied by a magazine system.
Everything will have to be paid for in the end, by somebody.
Tactics must be careful, planned and orthodox.
You may find the Politicians in Paris do not always agree with your priorities.


1. What joy to be a hack in this era! The Free Press is more influential than ever before in French history and is literally setting the Agenda in these confused times! What's more, the Declaration of Rights (see Appendix A) means you have Free Speech and can print and publicise what you want without fear of being locked up, as long as those principles remain respected!
2. You will have a crucial role in reporting on the events of the day, and if there is a war on how battles are reported! To do this you will have access to an over-head projector and acetates. Also, use paper, town-criers, whatever you like.
3. Remember your two-fold role affecting players and non-player 'public opinion', especially among your intended readership: (see below.)
4. During the game you may be given Rumour Cards by Umpires; this is a heavy hint that there's a need to investigate and report; and other players may also pass you 'hints' and it will be up to you how much credence to give them. Don't forget to protect your sources.
5. Note that to 'move the story along' the journalists have a role in ensuring players know of key events. So make sure you have a mix of polemic AND information!

Paris Journalist Attitudes of the time: 1791
The below are just for guidance and you may alter them according to whim. The journalists may use intemperate language and in fact are expected to do so. You are good patriots and the enemy are bloodsucking aristos.

1. The National Convention in Paris is the centre of the Universe. The speeches made here are important – so speechmaking must be taken into account and reported.
2. It would be most inconvenient if the Convention started meeting in secret or – horror!- left Paris! This would weaken your ability to report and hence would weaken France!
3. The following are very fashionable: modernity, self-sacrifice, patriotism, morality, mawkish sensitivity, the idea of Man in his natural state being Good and Honourable, Roman and Greek heroes.
4. Anti-Royalist press: main readership: the sans-culottes and the Radical, Democratic and Republican bourgeoisie. Anglophobia and Austrophobia (fear and hatred of English and Austrians) are rife. There is dislike of foreigners generally, with some exceptions for those seen as 'Friends of the Revolution.' The King is in the hands of an evil claque of blood-sucking Austrian spies led by the bitch-queen Marie. There is a great deal of vile personal abuse in the press, with accusations of corruption, treachery and perversion commonplace. Conspiracy theories abound.
5. Royalist Press: main readership: traditional elements of society. The King is seen by many, especially the unsophisticated peasantry, as a lawmaker and warlord and Symbol of the Nation. The Convention contains many treacherous Republicans out to weaken France, slimy corrupt toads who have carnal relations with… (see p.94.) There is a great deal of vile personal abuse in the press, with accusations of corruption, treachery and perversion commonplace. Conspiracy theories abound.

13. Bibliography
There are hundreds of books, many of excellent quality. Below are just the ones I happen to own or have borrowed recently.
SCHAMA, Citizens – excellent book, highly recommended
DOYLE, History of the French Revolution – good chronological treatment
LONGMAN'S Chronicle of the French Revolution – 'newspaper' style, very readable
McCRORY & MOULDER French Revolution for Beginners – 'comic book' style, accessible and a good starting point
TIMES Atlas of World History
PAXTON Companion to the French Revolution
BLANNING Origins of, and French Revolutionary Wars (two volumes)
GRIFFITH French Revolutionary Wars – recently published, very good, full of useful stuff for wargamers

I haven't found one I recommend wholeheartedly, but you might start with these:

Thanks to all the people who helped and will help with this game, especially Megagame Makers and the members of Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group. Any stupidities in this document are down to me.
Appendix A

NOTE No territorial or political restriction is recognised in the assertion of these universal rights.

1. The rights below are inalienable and will be attached as a preamble to the French Constitution of 1791.
2. Right to participate in making of laws (through elected Deputies)
3. Right to equality before the law
4. Right to equitable (fair) taxation
5. Right to protection of property against arbitrary (i.e. without court judgement) state action
6. Right to freedom of speech, religion and the press
7. Right to protection against arbitrary arrest and punishment

Appendix B
THE CONSTITUTION OF 1791 (summarised)

1. Declaration of Rights (Appendix A) underlies the Constitution.
2. The King of the French (Louis) has a two-year veto but cannot make law. To declare war he needs the support of the Convention.
3. King's Ministers cannot be Deputies.
4. Deputies elected by 'active citizens' with high tax-paying qualifications.
5. Taxation to be uniform and based on capacity to pay, no exemptions.
6. Civil Constitution of the Clergy: Church lands nationalised, priests are to be State employees and must take Oath of Loyalty to State.

©1999 John Rutherford asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.