A while ago I promised a look at the system for the new 7th Sea RPG from John Wick Presents. Well, it’s time to deliver on that promise.
Before we start in on the new way of resolving things we’ll take a quick look at task resolution in the first edition. What used to happen here is that you would add your relevant trait to skill and then roll that many D10s, you would then keep a number of those dice equal to the trait and add all the numbers together.
Now this system was pretty cool, you could pick which dice you wanted to keep in your set (in case you wanted to aim low, or undershow your abilities) and it allowed for people to get pretty far on raw talent (a high stat having a much bigger effect on the outcome than a high skill as a stat point added and rolled and kept die rather than the skill that added only a rolled one).
You then had raises, basically you could bid extra difficulty in increments of 5 points and if you are successful rolling against the new difficulty you get to do a cool thing for each raise you have (like roll an extra damage die, or disarm or do some kind of cool thing). The issue I always had with this (and one of the things we changed as a houserule) is that it doesn’t allow you to take advantage of an unexpected success; you have to call the raises first.
This came from (and I am massively assuming here) the fact that the company (AEG) who put 7th Sea out also published Legend of the Five Rings, which used an almost identical system.
However we now have 2nd Edition which has a very different, but recognisable system.
Now we have Risks, a single risk can cover any amount of time that the GM wants, risks are defined by an Approach, Consequences & Opportunities. We’re going to look at these in a slightly odd order as it’s important to know the Consequences before the player decides on the Approach and after declaring the Approach the GM reveals any Opportunities.
What happens if things go wrong? Every risk has to have at least one consequence, if it doesn’t then it’s not a risk. Lets start an example, we’ll use the character I generated in my previous post to navigate this example. We will start with setting the scene.
It is the early evening and Einhardt lurks outside of a noblemans estate in rural Castille, he has heard rumour that a blasphamous creature is impersonating a priest and leading twisted masses in the estates chapel. Einhardt has to infiltrate this estate, find the chapel and search for evidence of this monster.
The obvious consequence for this risk is discovery, if spotted Einhardt will have abandon his search and either confront or flee the guards.
This is simply how you are approaching the problem and with which stat + skill combo. You can use any combination of stat+skill you want, as long as you can describe your approach in a way that makes sense. The only caveat is that you cannot change your approach once you’ve started without a penalty.
In our example ‘Infiltrate the Estate’ there are a number of viable options, you could go for Panache + Convince and try and talk your way into a party, you could go for Resolve + Intimidate and impersonate a noble or government/church official and try to bully your way in, or you could go direct and use Finesse + Theft to sneak in.
In this case Einhardt is going to use Finesse + Theft, he is not a subtle man, he is going to vault the wall and try to sneak across the grounds to the Chapel.
At this point the GM looks at the Risk as a whole, the consequences, the approach, the current story etc and decides if any opportunities are available. An opportunity is a bonus objective, its something that will provide an advantage but if missed does not complicate things. Its like finding the secret route in a video game that rewards you with extra ammo.
In this case he takes stock of what is going on and states that there are strange lights coming from the estates graveyard.
Finally there is Flair, the first time you use a skill in any scene you get to add a bonus die to your dice pool. This encourages players to vary their approach.
Putting it all Together
The Risk: Sneaking into the Castillian Estate.
Consequence: Encounter the Guards x2 (Two sets of guards requiring a raise each to bypass).
Opportunity: Strange actvity at the estates grave yard.
Approach: Straight up sneaking in. (Finesse + Theft)
Now we roll dice, Einhardt has 5 dice for this (2 Finesse + 2 Theft + 1 for the first time he uses Theft in the scene). He rolls 9, 3, 7, 10, 2 you then take these and make sets of 10, so from this result I can make:
10 (1 Raise)
9+2 = 11 (1 Raise)
7+3 = 10 (1 Raise)
Any dice that cannot be used to make a set of 10 are discarded.
Now you spend these raises. In this case the first raise is spent to bypass the first set of guards, the second is spent to take advantage of the opportunity at the graveyard and third is spent to bypass the second set of guards.
The outcome of this is narrated by the GM and player together.
“Vaulting the wall Einhardt lands in a muddy ditch, it is cold and damp here but if gives enough cover for him to remain hidden as the first patrol walks past his position. Waiting until they leave he dashes out across the ground, flitting from cover to cover until he arrives near the graveyard, here he pauses to listen and overhears two grave diggers exchanging words, it turns out that one of them leaves a space key to the chapel in the tool shed in case he needs to get in at night.
Finally, departing the graveyard he makes his way to the chapel, taking refuge in the trees of the orchard and allowing the second patrol he arrives un-accosted.”
This is the end of that scene, Einhardt is at the chapel, what he does next will help shape the next scene. Does he retrieve the hidden key? What does he find in the chapel?
Obviously with a different dice roll that could have gone very differently. If he had generated only 2 raises he would have had to choose between taking advantage of the opportunity and bypassing the second patrol.
If there had been another person with him, they would also have to roll and face the same risks. Lets say that Einhardt is accompanied by his friend and ally Orla Ragnarsdottir, a Vesten shield maiden of much ass kicking but minimal subtlty. She has a finesse of 3 and no skill in theft at all, Orla rolls a 10, 6, 4, this gives her two raises.
However as she has no skill Orla must spend a second raise to succeed. So she can spend her two raises to avoid the first guards, wait while Einhardt checks out the graveyard and then has no raises to spend to avoid the second patrol. Einhardt could try and drop from his concealed postion in the trees and knock out the guards before they see Orla, but doing so would mean improvising as he has already declared his approach to be one of stealth, to do so he would need to spend two raises rather than one.
In this case Einhardt doesn’t have enough raises to improvise a knock out and elects to stay hidden. We then move to a new risk challenge. Can Orla & Einhardt deal with the guards without raising the alarm?
That’s it really. There are some more complications around combat and there are merits that allow you to do more or be more flexible, you can also spend hero points for extra dice for you or another (in the above example Einhardt could spend a hero point to add 3 dice to Orlas dice pool by aiding her). The Heroes & Villains can use pressure to try and force a course of action, acting against it requires extra raises.
The GM has a Danger Pool, which is spent to empower villains, minions and circumstances, make things harder or introduce new threats.
Finally the player can always choose to Fail. This is an interesting approach that gives a good option for Heroes forced into circumstances that they are not suited for. In the above example Orlas player could simply state “I Fail” when the GM asks for a risk check. Failing means you don’t roll dice, you suffer all consequences & miss all opportunities but you gain a hero point and you get to set the terms of failure. So Orlas player could say “I am caught by the guards who take me to the chapel instead of the house and leave me tied to a seat while they go to look for the priest.”. Not only does that get her a hero point but she knows that Einhardt is coming that way and may be able to rescue her.
All told this looks really fun to play, system encourages a flow of dramatic narrative between the players and the GM and the ability to take a fail on your own terms should allow for some really good story to come out of characters being matched to challenges outside their comfort zone.
Good job people, you’ve put together a system that is familiar enough to players of 1st edition but provides a whole new way of approaching the story.