7th Sea 2nd Edition – Part One

seventh_sea_pirate_logo

You know, for about a second I considered writing this entire post in ‘Pirate Speech’ but then I realised that would be amazingly annoying.

Anyway, onto the fun part.

We’re going to have a look at 7th Sea (2nd Ed).

Now I backed 7th Sea on Kickstarter, which was something I really had to think about as I have not had good experiences with RPG Kickstarters and have proclaimed on more than one occasion how ‘done’ I am with crowdfunding.  However I decided to give it another go and backed 3 projects that I was interested in, one is now 6 months late and has no updated or estimated delivery date, the other is looking like its going to miss its delivery date completely but as there is practically no communications from that project, who knows.  This one however not only delivered everything it promised but it did so early.  Well done to John Wick & friends.

Quick side note, this has not in anyway restored my faith in crowd funding as a method for producing RPGs, a 33% success rate is really low.

Anyway, on to the game.

For those who do not know, 7th Sea is a game of swashbuckling high adventure that takes place in a fantasy version of Renaissance Europe, most of the world is familiar enough to us that a reader can pick up easily enough what the feel of each of the countries is.  However there is a big difference, that difference is Sorcery, in the world of 7th Sea magic exists and is practicied if not widley then certainly moderately.  Each nation has its own flavour of sorcery and they are all pretty awesome.

The original 7th Sea used a very similar roll & keep system to the Legend of the Five Rings games, not really surprising given that both were AEG games.  The new edition uses a much more stripped down and narrativly aware system that I will talk about in some detail later.

I am going to look, in detail, at the new system changes but before we can do that we need an example character to use in the system examples.  So, part one of this post is going to cover creating a character and part two will look at the system.

7th Sea Second Edition Character Creation

As with all RPGs you need a good solid concept that you can build a character around.  Given the awesome background changes and updates in this edition I’m going to take advantage of this and create an Eisen monster hunter.

When generating a hero your most important choice is the choice of Nation.  There are eight nations, nine if you count the ‘Pirate Nation’ as well.  A, really, brief summary of which can be found below:

Avalon: Green and enchanted, this union of three kingdoms has recently risen to the forefront of Théan politics under the leadership of Queen Elaine.

Castille: Headquarters of the Vaticine Church, this fertile nation was once the home of science and reason, but it has fallen under the spell of corruption and fanaticism.

Eisen: A proud yet broken land, Eisen is a nightmare brought to life by three decades of mass murder kept at bay by heroes as dangerous as the horrors lurking in the Nation’s shadows.

Montaigne: One of Théah’s most powerful nations, Montaigne leads the world in art and culture even as its Emperor crushes the populace beneath his thumb.

Sarmatian Commonwealth: Two nations bound by a single crown, the Commonwealth is a democratic monarchy where all people are equal, even kings.

Ussura: A Nation torn between traditional isolationism and an ambitious ruler who will do anything to drag his Nation into the future, no matter the cost.

Vestenmannavnjar: A Nation of raiders and warlords who conquered the world’s economy by hammering their swords and spears into coins.

Vodacce: The former cradle of civilization, Vodacce is now split between seven merchant Princes whose complex and nefarious schemes reach every corner of the world.

So my choice will be Eisen.  Eisen is this game worlds version of Germany and is emerging shattered from 30 years of religious conflict.  What is worse is that the amount of blood shed has attracted and summoned monsters and nightmare creatures.  In years past the Eisen has the ability to fight against these horrors using a magical metal that their noble families used to control.  In the years of war though these relics were lost as the various noble houses killed each other off.

Eisen has learned from this though, they have learned the value of national unity and they are trying to repair their country.  Eisen swordsmen are feared and respected throughout the lands as some of the most competent and well trained soldiers in all the lands.

The next thing to choose is your traits, the basic traits are:

Brawn is a Hero’s strength and physical power.

Finesse measures a Hero’s coordination and agility.

Resolve is a Hero’s willpower and endurance.

Wits measures how quickly a Hero thinks on his feet.

Panache is a Hero’s charm and personal magnetism.

All these traits start at 2 and you get two additional points to spend.  I’m going to spend those two extra points in Brawn & Resolve, as a Monster Hunter I’m going to need to be strong both physically and mentally.

Brawn: 3
Finesse: 2
Resolve: 3
Wits: 2
Panache: 2

Now we apply a bonus based on my nationality.  As an Eisen I get to choose between +1 Brawn or +1 Resolve.  Given that I’m creating a character who regularly faces monsters I’m going with Resolve.  That leaves my stats as:

Brawn: 3
Finesse: 2
Resolve: 4
Wits: 2
Panache: 2

Now we pick Backgrounds.  This is something I really like that is new in this edition, it’s similar to how in Iron Kingdoms you select two careers and gain all the skills from both.  We have to pick two backgrounds to represent what it is we did before the game started.  The key thing here is that the background represent what you were, not what you are.  So my Monster Hunting Eisen is going to have been a Monster Hunter in the past but is now more than that.

You get to select backgrounds from a generic list or from nation specific lists.  There are lots of options and they are all formatted the same way:

Name:

Restrictions: Some backgrounds have criteria you must meet to qualify for the background.

Quirk: A trait that lets you generate hero points (an important in game currency).

Advantages: You get all listed advantages, these are things that most people in the setting will never have any access to.

Skills: Each background comes with Skills, you get all listed skills at rank 1, but if you double up across backgrounds then you get to add the skill levels together.

After looking over the options I’ve decided that I’m going to be taking both my backgrounds from the Eisen nation list.  I’m choosing:

Name: Hexe

Quirk: Gain a Hero Point when you go out of your way to ensure that the dead stay dead.

Advantages: Sorcerery x2, Cast Iron Stomach
Skills: Athletics, Intimidate, Notice, Tempt, Weaponry

Ok so this means I’m playing someone with magic, the Eisen magic (Hexenwerk) is a disgusting, dark form of sorcery that is used to put down monsters and combat the dead.  It’s extremely thematic and fits the idea for this character wonderfully.

For my second pick:

Name: Ungetümjäger (Monster Hunter)

Quirk: Earn a Hero Point when you choose to hunt down an inhuman creature so it will never hurt anyone ever again.

Advantages: I Won’t Die Here, Indomitable Will.

Skills: Aim, Athletics, Brawl, Notice, Weaponry.

And there is the Monster Hunter career, now I have a magic using monster hunter, my character sheet now adds both careers advantages and skills, it now looks a bit like this:

Quirks:
Gain a Hero Point when you go out of your way to ensure that the dead stay dead.
Earn a Hero Point when you choose to hunt down an inhuman creature so it will never hurt anyone ever again.

Advantages:
Sorcerery x2
Cast Iron Stomach
I Won’t Die Here.
Indomitable Will.

Skills:
Aim              1
Athletics    2
Brawl           1
Intimidate   1
Notice        2
Tempt        1
Weaponry    2

I’m feel pretty good about that.  Lets look up those advantages and see what they get me.

Sorcerery – this just gives me the ability to use my nations sorcerery.  Having 2 levels of it gives me some extra effect when using it.

Cast Iron Stomach – you can eat spoiled food without be negatively effected and still gain sustenance from it.

I Won’t Die Here – Spend a Hero Point to ignore all negative effects from Dramatic Wounds for the round—the Villain does not gain Bonus Dice if you have 2 Dramatic Wounds, and you do not become Helpless at 4 Dramatic Wounds.

Indomitable Will – After another character attempts to intimidate, seduce, or otherwise goad you, spend a Hero Point to automatically resist.

Ok, these also sound awesome.  I can resist attempts to distract me from my mission, I can really suck up the punishment and I can survive.  What’s next?

Skills

Skills are really important in this game, it is after all a dice pool system.  You get 10 points to spend on skills, these can be existing skills or they can be new skills.  However, you cannot start with a skill higher than 3.

So I am going to spend 5 points right off the bat to raise all my existing skills 2 and push Weaponry to 3.  That leaves me with 5 to spend on new skills, lets look over the list and see what the options are.

I’m going to add Ride, Scholarship & Theft at 2, 1 & 2 respectively.  This menas my skills list now looks like this:

Aim            2
Athletics    2
Brawl        2
Intimidate    2
Notice        2
Ride        2
Scholarship    1
Tempt        2
Theft        2
Weaponry    3

That looks pretty good for a starting character.  Next up we have…

Advantages

Now you pick 5 points of additional advantages (these are rated between 1 & 5 points).

This is actually a pretty hard choice, there are lots of additional advantages and they are all really good and a lot of them look like really interesting combinations.  However I have am going to spend all 5 points on Duelist Academy, this allows me to have the Eisen duelists style.

Arcana

Each hero is touched by fate, this is important in 7th Sea where Fate Magic is a thing.  In 1st Ed you could spend 10 points and pick a Virtue or gain 10 points and pick a Hubris.  Now, because of the really stingy chracter generation points allotment in 1st edition you almost always ended up taking a Hubris.

In 2nd Ed however they have done the sensible thing and said you pick on of each.  There are 20 to choose from based on 20 Sorte, Fate, Cards (like Tarot), each card has a Virtue effect and a Hubris effect, you can choose the same card for both.  A Virtue or Hubris can be activated once per session to give you an advantage or generate a hero point.

After some thought I am picking:

Hubris: The War (Loyal) – You receive a Hero Point when your Hero goes back for a fallen comrade or refuses to leave a wounded ally

This seems like a logical choice for the kind of character I’m creating, he does a horrible job and has seen many of his allies and friends killed by monsters.  He’s not going to leave anyone else behind.

Virtue: The Hero (Courageous) – Activate your Virtue to add Bonus Dice to your Risk equal to the Fear rating of your target.

For some one who spends a lot of time fighting really scary things, this seems like a great choice.  Trapped in a bad situation with a powerful monster he can turn the tables quickly.

Stories

This is a new thing in 7th Sea 2nd Ed, stories help you advance your character both by story and through mechanical effects.  Your characters story is his personal tale, he is also part of the bigger narrative but this defines his personal tale.  Interestingly enough this is defined entirely by the player, with input from the GM, including the places the story will take, the kinds of things you’ll have to do and the rewards it gives.

So this is something that I think is best done as a group activity, you can bounce the idea off other people, you can generate connected stories and the GM can draw on all of them for the overall campaign story.

That said I’m going to give an example story here for the sake of completion.

Stories have steps, the number of steps depends on the reward, in my example below I’ve chosen a 2pt advantage as the reward, that means the story has to have two stages.  I’m only putting in the first one though as planning beyond step one seems little daft, the events of the sessions could dramatically change what I have in mind.

The Good Neighbour

The rise of darkness and monsters in Eisen has started to spread beyond our borders.  This must be stopped.

Ending: The powerful creature that escaped to a neighbouring nation is tracked and killed.

Reward: Advantage (Friend at Court, 2pts) – The local ruler is grateful for the killing of this creature and reawrds me by introducing me to number of her friends.

First Step: Track the creature and find where it has made its lair.

Details

Now we have a couple of finishing touches.  Everyone starts with Old Thean & the native language as well as one extra language for each point of wits above 2, for this character that is no extras.  Then you select reputation, your reputation (unless you have an advantage to improve it) is one word (preferably an adjective) that describes you, I’m going to choose Scary.

You can now choose if you are a member of a secret society or not.  I’m going to choose not.

Wealth starts at zero, unless you are Rich, but you are assumed to be able to afford your living expenses.

Now I need to select a name.  Einhardt Vogel sounds cool, lets go with that.

The only other things I need to note down relate to my sorcery and sword fighting techniques, so lets look them up.

Hexenwerk

This is the disgusting magic of death that is used by the Eisen to send the creatures that ravage their land back to their graves.  For each level of Sorcery you have you get to pick one major and two minor Unguents that you know the recipes for.  Unguents are created from parts of corpses and monsters along with poisonus and/or mind altering herbs and venoms, once applied or ingested or used they create a magical effect.

There are seven major and 13 minor Unguents.  As I have two levels of sorcery I get to pick 2 major and 4 minor Unguent Recipies.

Major Unguents

Ghost Eyes
Eyes carved from the recent dead, mixed with holy water and mandrake, and then smeared across the eyelids. Ghost Eyes allows you to see—for a single Scene—spirits, ghosts, and other such Monsters that would typically be invisible.

Spectral Prison
Moss from a tombstone or mausoleum, boiled and dissolved, mixed with salt and bone meal into a thick, gooey paste. Draw a closed circle, square, pentagram, or similar shape with this Unguent. As long as the shape remains intact and closed, no undead Monster can cross the shape or affect any creature on the other side of the line. The Monster can take other actions as normal—such as making a social Risk if it is capable of speech or shooting a gun if it knows how to do so—but no supernatural effects can cross the line. The Monster itself cannot break the line (by throwing a normal item over it, by breaking the surface the line is drawn upon, etc.), but it may be able to convince someone else to break it.

Minor Unguents

Reapers Poison
A caustic blend of natural poisons sprinkled with shavings of pure silver. When you attack the undead using a flask of Reaper’s Poison, spend Raises as normal to inflict Wounds. If the Monster takes at least 1 Wound, it is inflicted with Reaper’s Poison, causing 1 Wound every time it takes an action until the end of the Round. These Wounds cannot be cancelled.

Tears of the Prophet
A viscous substance made from anointing oil and rare spices. You can apply Tears of the Prophet to a dead body that has not been affected by Hexenwerk. This body cannot return to life.

Fathers Fury
A stake of holly wood, smeared with a mash made from herbs and natural poisons, and then blessed by a priest. You can take an action to use Father’s Fury on a Helpless undead Monster. The Monster is utterly destroyed, and can never be brought to life again.

Summers Smile
A poultice brewed from water from a fast-flowing stream and sickeningly sweet herbs. When applied to a Dramatic Wound caused by an undead Monster, the Dramatic Wound is healed at the end of the Scene.

Dueling

As a duelist you get access to the basic dueling maneuvers and then something special from my nations sword fighting school.  These will be familiar to anyone who played the first edition however the dueling schools have been greatly simplified.

The basic moves are:

Slash, Parry, Feint, Lunge, Bash, Riposte.

There are two options for Eisen fighting schools, I am picking:

Eisenfaust
Eisenfaust makes use of a broadsword with an off-hand panzerhand, or iron glove. The Duelist deflects or grabs incoming attacks with his glove and exploits the openings created with his broadsword. Eisenfaust is defensive, teaching its students to wait for their opponent to make a mistake before attacking. Eisenfaust exploits mistakes made by an opponent. Gradually, the opponent grows impatient or angry. As soon as he slips up, the student of Eisenfaust is on top of him, raining down fearsome broadsword blows.

Style Bonus: Iron Reply
When you wield a heavy weapon in one hand and a panzerhand in the other, your Riposte Maneuver is replaced by the Iron Reply—preventing a number of Wounds equal to your Ranks in Resolve + your Ranks in Weaponry. You also deal a number of Wounds equal to your Ranks in Brawn + your Ranks in Weaponry.  You can only perform Iron Reply once per Round.

And that is it.  The system doesn’t really use equipment stats, its all tied up into how the new system works.  Part two of this post is going to look at the new system.  But for now we have character created, which I will also use to play when my friend Ian runs a 7th Sea 2nd Edition game for us.

————–

Name: Einhardt Vogel
Nationality: Eisen
Reputation: Scary

Traits

Brawn 3
Finesse 2
Resolve 4
Wits 2
Panache 2

Languges: Old Thean, Eisen

Quirks:
Gain a Hero Point when you go out of your way to ensure that the dead stay dead.
Earn a Hero Point when you choose to hunt down an inhuman creature so it will never hurt anyone ever again.

Hubris: The War (Loyal) – You receive a Hero Point when your Hero goes back for a fallen comrade or refuses to leave a wounded ally

Virtue: The Hero (Courageous) – Activate your Virtue to add Bonus Dice to your Risk equal to the Fear rating of your target.

Advantages:
Sorcerery x2

Cast Iron Stomach – you can eat spoiled food without be negatively effected and still gain sustenance from it.

Duelist Academy – Gain access to the dueling style for Eisen.

I Won’t Die Here – Spend a Hero Point to ignore all negative effects from Dramatic Wounds for the round—the Villain does not gain Bonus Dice if you have 2 Dramatic Wounds, and you do not become Helpless at 4 Dramatic Wounds.

Indomitable Will – After another character attempts to intimidate, seduce, or otherwise goad you, spend a Hero Point to automatically resist.

Skills:

Aim 2
Athletics 2
Brawl 2
Intimidate 2
Notice 2
Ride 2
Scholarship 1
Tempt 2
Theft 2
Weaponry 3

Dueling

Slash, Parry, Feint, Lunge, Bash, Riposte.

There are two options for Eisen fighting schools, I am picking:

Eisenfaust
Eisenfaust makes use of a broadsword with an off-hand panzerhand, or iron glove. The Duelist deflects or grabs incoming attacks with his glove and exploits the openings created with his broadsword. Eisenfaust is defensive, teaching its students to wait for their opponent to make a mistake before attacking. Eisenfaust exploits mistakes made by an opponent. Gradually, the opponent grows impatient or angry. As soon as he slips up, the student of Eisenfaust is on top of him, raining down fearsome broadsword blows.

Style Bonus: Iron Reply
When you wield a heavy weapon in one hand and a panzerhand in the other, your Riposte Maneuver is replaced by the Iron Reply—preventing a number of Wounds equal to your Ranks in Resolve + your Ranks in Weaponry. You also deal a number of Wounds equal to your Ranks in Brawn + your Ranks in Weaponry.  You can only perform Iron Reply once per Round.

Hexenwerk

Major Unguents

Ghost Eyes
Eyes carved from the recent dead, mixed with holy water and mandrake, and then smeared across the eyelids. Ghost Eyes allows you to see—for a single Scene—spirits, ghosts, and other such Monsters that would typically be invisible.

Spectral Prison
Moss from a tombstone or mausoleum, boiled and dissolved, mixed with salt and bone meal into a thick, gooey paste. Draw a closed circle, square, pentagram, or similar shape with this Unguent. As long as the shape remains intact and closed, no undead Monster can cross the shape or affect any creature on the other side of the line. The Monster can take other actions as normal—such as making a social Risk if it is capable of speech or shooting a gun if it knows how to do so—but no supernatural effects can cross the line. The Monster itself cannot break the line (by throwing a normal item over it, by breaking the surface the line is drawn upon, etc.), but it may be able to convince someone else to break it.

Minor Unguents

Reapers Poison
A caustic blend of natural poisons sprinkled with shavings of pure silver. When you attack the undead using a flask of Reaper’s Poison, spend Raises as normal to inflict Wounds. If the Monster takes at least 1 Wound, it is inflicted with Reaper’s Poison, causing 1 Wound every time it takes an action until the end of the Round. These Wounds cannot be cancelled.

Tears of the Prophet
A viscous substance made from anointing oil and rare spices. You can apply Tears of the Prophet to a dead body that has not been affected by Hexenwerk. This body cannot return to life.

Fathers Fury
A stake of holly wood, smeared with a mash made from herbs and natural poisons, and then blessed by a priest. You can take an action to use Father’s Fury on a Helpless undead Monster. The Monster is utterly destroyed, and can never be brought to life again.

Summers Smile
A poultice brewed from water from a fast-flowing stream and sickeningly sweet herbs. When applied to a Dramatic Wound caused by an undead Monster, the Dramatic Wound is healed at the end of the Scene.

Stories

The Good Neighbour

The rise of darkness and monsters in Eisen has started to spread beyond our borders.  This must be stopped.

Ending: The powerful creature that escaped to a neighbouring nation is tracked and killed.

Reward: Advantage (Friend at Court, 2pts) – The local ruler is grateful for the killing of this creature and reawrds me by introducing me to number of her friends.

First Step: Track the creature and find where it has made its lair.

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