Part of the vision for the Beast of Gévaudan is to create a product that pays tribute to the style and form of 18th century board games. Imagine if this game was actually from the 18th century, found by the antiquarians at Hounds & Jackals, who have updated and restored it to a blend of the modern and the historic. A massive amount of time has been spent researching the history of the Beast and insuring as much accuracy could be used to develop the essence and rules of the game. So too has been the consideration of the final forms of the components.
Depending on the level funding achieved, the hope is to make the items to the level of Live Action Role Playing (LARP) prop quality.
Read along and take a journey back in time to tin figurines, musket dice, and more.
Tin soldiers were originally almost two-dimensional figures, often called “little Eilerts” or “flats”. They were the first toy soldiers to be mass-produced. Though largely superseded in popularity from the late 19th century by fully rounded three-dimensional lead figures, these flat tin soldiers continue to be produced. The first mass-produced tin soldiers were made in Germany as a tribute to Frederick the Great during the 18th century. Johann Gottfried Hilpert (1748–1832) and his brother Johann Georg Hilpert (1733–1811) established an early assembly-line in 1775 for soldiers and other figures; female painters applied a single color on each figurine as it was passed around the workshop.
Troops on campaign during the 7 Years War were not allowed to gamble nor carry gaming devices. They were, however, allowed and expected to carry extra musket balls, usually in a shot pouch which was normally checked by the heft rather than by looking inside. The troops, knowing this, would take a hammer and carefully flatten the balls, tap in the “pips” with a nail, and hide their “dice” in the shot pouch safe from the Sergeant’s eye, yet available for a quick game of Hazzard at the camp fire. The nobles preferred to use fine bone dice or polished ivory, whilst peasants would often whittle their own dice from wood. As is the case today, dice were usually thrown by hand and sometimes from a cup.
Jetons are tokens or coin-like medals produced across Europe from the 13th through the 17th centuries. They were often used as a money substitute in games, similar to modern casino chips or poker chips. Thousands of different jetons exist, mostly of religious and educational designs, as well as portraits, the last of which most resemble coinage. The spelling “jeton” is from the French; the English spelling is”jetton“.
Cards in the traditional Paris style which were common in France at the end of the 17th Century and throughout the 18th Century. They were primarily produced in the north of France including the towns of St. Omer, Pas-de-Calais, Caen, Rouen, Brest, Nantes on the west coast, Tours, Troyes and Lille. The playing cards of this region, particularly those of Rouen, were exported all over Europe. They were especially popular in Flanders, but were also well known in Spain, Russia, England, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark. The size of the cards is similar to the historical originals, measuring approx. 3.5″ x 2.25″ making them slightly smaller than traditional poker sized playing cards. They are also gilded, which adds a touch of elegance and luxury of the time period.
Many games at the time were printed on laid paper. Examples include many geographical racing games, moral/life games, and other topics often used to teach/educate players. Often teetotums and counters were used. Other games which were often crafted of wood included Chess, draughts, and backgammon. These latter games often were designed as a folding “tray” where the game pieces could be kept inside. Many components were made of wood or ivory, and the rich could afford inlaid markings and decorations in the board.
The Commonplace Book is for serious journalists. Original examples were used between the late 1600’s through the mid 1800’s. These books measured in similar modern dimensions of a 5-1/2” by 8-1/2” notebook. They often were hard bound with a colourful cover and leather spine. The paper was known as laid paper, made of a linen-rag composition.
The Courrier d’Avignon was one of the newspapers most associated with the saga of the Beast. The typography and style of that newspaper has been seeded throughout the components of the game, especially the main player aid, which is a pseudo-issue of the Courrier! It replicates the 4-page spread as produced in 1765.
The game is filled with art that dates back to the 18th century. Much effort was done to find the actual historical images of real personages involved with the saga of the Beast, as well as various depictions of the Beast itself!
Other items are in development, such as a player tip sheet in the form of an old folded letter with wax seal, addressed in script to the players themselves. A booklet on the dates and locations of the saga of the Beast is also being finalized. More surprises await those who help support the project!