Having just finished watching the brilliant Mesrine, I commented to my wife that old school D&D characters are like Jacques Mesrine – essentially bandits, though they’re not just in it for the money, but also for the glory, who profess to have some kind of code or ethos, but will break it – violently – when expedient, developing delusions of grandeur, before dying a bloody mess. In the Icewind Dale D&D PC games you could find a book – How To Be An Adventurer – which contained a chapter titled, Face It, You’re Actually Neutral Evil.
And then I find that my idea of writing a post on this topic has been pre-empted by Noisms at Monsters and Manuals.
So, something different. Jacques Mesrine – the character in the film, at least – had ‘aplomb’. As I understand it, in the French editions of Call of Cthulhu, characters come with an ‘Aplomb’ score, helping them survive mind bending horrors with a shrug and a Gallic ‘huh’. Now, I have never liked Fate Points, Hero Points, Luck Scores, and the other metagamey distinctions between PCs and NPCs. But, would conceptualising these kinds of PC resources as an Aplomb Score lessen this dislike? How come the PCs can keep escaping from the oubliette in Threshold Gaol? For the same reason that Jacques Mesrine could have done – their superhuman levels of aplomb.