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And now for a villain who perhaps needs no introduction, but a warning. Far from being merely a misunderstood rascal, Sade almost certainly deserved even more time in prison than he actually experienced. Here then is the man who has lent his very name to the term “Sadism”.
Marquis de Sade (October, 1767)
Soldier, Dramatist, and Depravity Personified.
Full Name: Donatien-Alphonse-François, Comte de Sade
Aliases: Captain de Sade (of the Burgundy Cavalry), Count de Mazan
Class: Libertine (Aristocrat)
Appearance/Most Memorable Characteristic: An impeccably dressed man with a roundish face, high forehead, and deep-set blue eyes that stare intensely. His natural hair under his wig is blond.
Charisma: 16 Intelligence: 16 Wisdom: 11
Strength: 9 Dexterity: 13 Constitution: 9
Assets: Aristocratic Skills, Talented Writer, Actor, Military Training
Afflictions: Notorious, Obsessed with Numbers, Powerful Enemy (Madame de Montreuil, his mother-in-law), Powerful Enemy (Inspector Marais of the Paris police)
Hit Points: 36
Attacks: 1 (pistol, sword, knife, rod, or whip)
Damage Bonus: +2
Special Abilities: Disguise (+1) | Dueling (+1/+3) | Fraud (+1) | Sneak (+1) | Seduction (+1)
Weaknesses: Faithless Lover | Fascinated By Innocence
Typical Equipment Carried: Fashionable clothing of gray silk. A muff of white fur. A fine walking stick. A powdered wig. A dress sword (epee). High-heeled shoes. A small case with anise-flavored “pastilles de Richelieu” (candy pellets made with “Spanish Fly”, or powdered blister beetles).
Residence: His maison de plaisance in Arcueil, just south of Paris. The Château de Lacoste in Provence.
- June 2, 1740: Donatien-Alphonse-François de Sade was born in Paris. His father was Jean-Baptiste-Joseph-Francois, Comte (Count) de Sade. His mother, Marie-Eléonore, Comtesse (Countess) de Sade, was the Princesse de Conde’s lady-in-waiting. The family had persistent money problems, made worse by the Comte’s compulsive gambling.
- 1750: Sade begins his education at the Jesuit-run Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris. He was frequently beaten and whipped while there.
- 1752: Sade’s parents separated, and his mother retired to a Carmelite convent.
- 1755: Sade was enrolled in the Régiment du Roi (King’s Regiment) as a sub-lieutenant. His position is unpaid and informal.
- May 17, 1756: Great Britain declared war on France, formally beginning the Seven Years War.
- January 1757: Sade was promoted to the official rank of “Cornet”, with the duty of bearing his infantry regiment’s standard.
- June 23 1758: Sade narrowly escaped being killed at the Battle of Krefeld.
- April 21, 1759: As was standard practice at the time, Sade’s father purchased for his son his own cavalry company, and the rank of Capitaine (Captain). The young Captain de Sade quickly developed a reputation for libertinage that was extreme even by the standards of the French aristocracy.
- March 15, 1763: Sade is discharged from his regiment, due to the end of the Seven Years War.
- May 17, 1763: Sade married Renée-Pélagie de Montreuil, eldest daughter of a wealthy – but only recently ennobled – family.
- October 29, 1763: Sade is imprisoned in the Château de Vincennes, for attempting to induce a prostitute to engage in “sodomy”, mutual flagellation, and the desecration of religious objects.
- November 13, 1763: Sade is freed from prison by order of the King, but confined to the Château d’Echauffour, owned by his wife’s family. The ban on his travel will be lifted in November of 1764.
- July 1764: Sade’s first child with his wife was born, but died shortly thereafter.
- December 1764: Sade was back in Paris, with Inspector Marais keeping track of his activities.
- February 1765: Sade takes the voluptuous actress and dancer Mademoiselle Beauvoisin as a mistress, promising her a stipend of 20 Louis d’Ors a month. She already has at least two other lovers. Sade’s mother in-law quickly learned of the affair, and began conspiring to separate the couple.
- May 9, 1765: Sade took the pregnant Mademoiselle Beauvoisin to his family’s château of Lacoste, arriving by June. He tells people along the way that she is his wife.
- August 20, 1765: Sade and Mademoiselle Beauvoisin returned to Paris.
- January 1766: Sade ended his affair with Mademoiselle Beauvoisin, who immediately rejoined the theater and took new lovers.
- June 1766: Sade visits Château de Lacoste to supervise renovations, including the construction of a theater.
- November 4, 1766: Sade began renting his maison de plaisance (pleasure house) in Arcueil. He became known around the town for bringing young men and women back to the maison for sex and whippings.
- January 24, 1767: Sade’s father died, making him the Comte de Sade. In accordance with the custom among French nobility of the time, Donatien-Alphonse-François assumed the grander-sounding title of “Marquis de Sade”.
- August 27, 1767: Sade’s wife gaves birth to his first surviving legitimate son, Louis-Marie.
- October 1767: Sade resumed residence at Arcueil, and returned to his preferred pastimes.
Personality and Role-Playing Notes
Sade affects a refined and sophisticated demeanor, but he is quick to violence if he feels insulted, or even slightly annoyed. He is an atheist and an iconoclast, yet demands all the privileges of his title. His tastes in food is gourmet, to the point of snobbishness. He requires extreme amounts of stimulation to feel any sexual satisfaction, and is in constant search for the ultimate erotic experience. He enjoys both whipping others, and being whipped himself. He finds the idea of desecration very arousing, and will often incorporate some manner of sacrilege into his sexual escapades. Besides perverse sex, Sade’s other great passion is for the theater – both as as an author, and an actor. He often combine the two pursuits, and the scenes of his sexual crimes are often carefully arranged by him for dramatic effect. The oddest part of his personality, however, is his obsession with numbers. He will inexplicably insist on acts being repeated a specific number of times, or objects being presented to him in specific amounts, without any rational reason ever given.
Marquis de Sade Your Game
Sade is here depicted well before he has written the books that will make him (in)famous across Europe. He is already notorious among the police and prostitutes of Paris, but next year he will land in serious trouble for the imprisonment and torture of an unemployed cloth spinner named Rose Keller at his maison de plaisance.
Player Characters encountering Sade might be policemen working for Inspector Marais, or be private investigators working for the Marquis’ mother-in-law. They could be invited to one of his elaborate dinner parties, particularly if they are also nobility (or part of the Parisian demimonde). Perhaps they have been employed by the family of a young woman who barely survived one of Sade’s depraved soirées. Sade might possess an infamous book detailing the outer limits of pleasure and pain, which the PCs want to either read or steal. Or, maybe Sade seeks such a book, and commissions the PCs to find it. In a less scandalous vein, Player Characters could even be actors hired for a play the Marquis has written.
The Presenter could make Sade an actual member of the “Sodality of the Friends of Crime” (as described in his novel “Juliette”). In that case, the PCs might be either accidentally learn of the group’s existence, or have been actually sent by the Church to neutralize it. However, the PCs might instead be working for a rival group of hedonists who also wish to destroy the dangerous Sodality.
Sade makes a good recurring villain for Sagas that encompass decades. He will be in and out of trouble with the law for all the remaining years of his life – imprisoned for the entire period from from 1777 to 1790, becoming a politician during the Revolutionary period, and being imprisoned again from 1801 to his death in 1814. Sade’s influence could easily extend beyond his prison walls, particularly if the Presenter chooses to include the “Sodality of the Friends of Crime” as a real group.