So this last week a Kickstarter project was started to produce the 7th Sea: Second Edition, and it is going insanely well. I am interested in this because I have fond memories of the original 7th Sea’s setting. I remember collecting a number of the books, the main rules, several of the nation books and a couple of the secret society books. Since that time I have gotten rid of all of the books that I had in large part because while I enjoyed the setting, and thought the system was interesting, I found that it did not seem to support the characters in play as it described.
So now with the new edition coming, I am once again thinking of the setting, looking at the quick start rules that have been put out on DriveThruRPG if you signed up for the newsletter here and the frequently asked questions, and I wonder if it will live up to my expectations. At this point, I can’t do any comparisons to the original rules, since I only vaguely remember how they worked (I remember that you used a dice pool based on your attribute and trait and rolled them only keeping a sub-set of those dice, but I can’t remember if it was the number of dice in your trait or in your attribute), but I am going to talk about some of the information that we have for the new edition and see how that seems to work.
The first thing that I want to go over is the resolution mechanic. They are still using a dice pool of ten sided dice, but instead of counting rolls over a certain number or summing the total, you group the dice in sets that add up to ten (or more) trying to get as many of those sets, and you use those sets to accomplish tasks. To me this seems like it will be simple enough in play, but I am not sure how it will work for others (I grew up doing that when rolling spell damage in D&D. It just seemed easier to group the dice in groups of ten and add those together then add in the rest afterwards). Each of those groups of ten are called a “raise”, and they are used to accomplish tasks. Only one raise is needed to accomplish a task, and the extras are used to reduce consequences, help your fellow player’s with reducing the consequences they face, add extra effects, or establish fictional details. Which in my mind all sounds like a great idea. I especially like the establish fictional details and the reducing the consequences that the other characters face aspect of this.
The second item that I find interesting is the way they talk about the actions that a character would take that require them to roll the dice. This is called a “risk”, and it is taken from the concept that you only roll the dice when you do something that involves a risk. Now many games have this concept, in Savage Worlds, you do not roll your drive skill to drive to the grocery store, you just say that is what you are doing and it happens (unless something happens to inject danger into the situation such as ninjas jumping from the pickup in the next lane onto your car and attacking). So by naming it this way they are reinforcing this idea. Each “risk” is created from a player’s intent, or goal of the action, and has two parts, the action you take to overcome the risk and the consequence of the risk, and this is where the raises I previously covered come in. The first raise is used to overcome the risk, but at this point you still suffer the full consequence of the risk. Each additional raise you spend reduces the consequence of the risk until there is no consequence left. So as an example:
Your pirate, who is being chased by a group of guards, needs to climb down a cliff to get to the hidden cove where his boat is moored so he can escape. The player tells the GM that they intend to climb down the cliff and escape the guards. The GM declares that this is a risk because the guards might attack while the character is dangling from the cliff, the character might also slip on the rocks and fall, or even if everything goes well, they might just get numerous cuts, scratches, and miscellaneous other abrasions climbing down the cliff. As part of this risk, the GM declares that the consequence will be three wounds. The player might choose to then do something else, or go ahead and roll the dice to climb down the cliff. If they roll the dice to climb down and get one raise, then they will suffer three wounds and move on from there, if they got two raises, they could spend one of those raises to get down the cliff and the other to reduce the three wounds down to two, and so on with more raises.
A second example:
If there were two characters, George and Philip are climbing down the cliff with the same three wounds as a consequence and George got an amazing five raises and Philip got two, George could get down the cliff without injury using the his four raises, and spend the last raise to help Philip so that he would only suffer one wound instead of two. If Philip failed to get any raises, then something interesting happens to him, and George’s extra raise can’t be used to help him down the cliff (though that something interesting doesn’t mean that Philip didn’t make it down the cliff).
On the subject of wounds, there are two types in this edition, what they call “wounds” and “dramatic wounds”, these are tracked in the “death spiral” area of the character sheet, and this is something that I have heard many people say they are having problems with. My biggest issue with it (if I understand it correctly) is that it looks cluttered. I think it would be easier to understand if it was just a strait line instead of this spiral-like shape of circles and little explosions, though that does make the name not match the graphic. As I understand it, each time you take a wound, you mark off one of the circles until you hit the fifth circle. At that point you can choose to take a “dramatic wound” which changes some rules for your character (giving you extra dice for your risks, or giving the villains extra dice for example), or you can wait until you take up to your Resolve attribute in damage at which point you will automatically take a “dramatic wound”. Once you have taken your fourth “dramatic wound”, you are helpless and a villain may choose to try and kill the character and other characters can interfere with this. Unfortunately, there is no information in these rules about recovery from wounds are dramatic wounds, so it is hard to tell how significant each are, but my guess is wounds are not, and they refresh fairly quickly (possibly each scene). Now dramatic wounds might take longer to recover, or they might not again we just don’t know.
I am going to end this post here, and add more thoughts in a second post on this topic covering action scenes, fights and duels.