So I just finished reading the new 7th Sea Second Edition backer preview and I thought I would write down my impressions. The first thing that comes to mind is that I an very happy with the changes that where done to the main continent that the game takes place on. A month or so ago, I read both the GM’s Guide and the Player’s Guide for first edition, and I remember not being terribly inspired by any of the nations. I mean I still thought they were well done, better than many other settings, but I didn’t finish reading about any of the countries and think, I want to play a game set in that country, and now with the new edition, I am inspired by several of the countries. In particular Eisen and the new country that was added in this version, the Sarmatian Commonwealth. I know that there were hints in the first edition about bad stuff happening in Eisen, that monsters were there causing trouble, but it wasn’t really clear what kind, or what they wanted, and in the new edition, it is much more clear and frankly more inspiring.
The next chapter covers making characters, and it is a serviceable chapter with clear instructions. I am not entirely sold that the system is the right one for me, but it makes sense based on the rules and what I understand of the probabilities that the dice give us for actions. It does however have one of my favorite mechanics for advancement (Stories). When you create a character, you set a story with a starting point, a goal with the advancement reward, and add steps to reach the goal one at a time until you have completed one step per point of cost for the reward in your goal. I like this and am thinking about how it might be used in other games.
The fourth chapter covers the mechanics. Again they are perfectly serviceable as long as you keep in mind the design goals for this game. The first of those being that the players are a cut above almost everyone else. That means that you will succeed at all of your tasks unless you choose to fail. The other thing to remember is that just because you succeeded, that possibly means that you only just barely succeeded, and there is probably some cost. Another thing to note is for a game without much of anything in the way of equipment lists or much more than the barest of rules about money, it is a game with a great deal of emphasis on resource management. The resources that you manage are you successes that you roll when you perform a risky action, and you spend those successes on achieving your goal, reducing the consequences of, or taking advantage of any special opportunities that present themselves during the action sequence. I will not go into this more, I have already done that in a previous post here.
Chapter five covers sorcery, and in this edition, we lose one sorcery (the Vendel/Vesten) in this addition, we get a replacement for the Ussuran, and two new sorceries (one for Eisen and one for the new country). I like all of the new ones, especially the one for the Sarmatian Commonwealth, though I do miss the Vendel/Vesten sorcery.
Chapter six covers dueling and the duelist guilds. I do like that the guilds get all of the basic maneuvers, and that what makes each duelist guild is minimal (one special ability per guild).
Chapter seven covers sailing. It seems perfectly serviceable, but without actual play, I will not know for sure.
Chapter eight covers the secret societies. I like the favors mechanic that this chapter introduces, and I also like the changes made to Die Kreuzritter society. We also get one new society which is an interesting take on a red cross like organization. Also in this chapter we get the re-introduction of the Eisen Dracheneisen for the new edition. Now Dracheneisen is not restricted to the Eisen nobles, but to members of the Die Kreuzritter society.
The final chapter covers game mastering. This is for the most part a re-print with possibly minor updates from the first edition chapter on the same subject, and if you don’t have a copy of it, this is a great over view on setting up stories, the different hats that a game master needs to wear in the process of running a game, and how to create meaningful enemies. All in all a very useful chapter.
In closing two final thoughts, I have heard many complaints about the non-English language usage in the book. I am no one to judge if the usage of the Spanish for the not-Spain of Castille, or the French used in the not-France of Montaigne since I don’t know the languages, but it seems good enough to me. The other complaint that I have heard was about some of the art especially the picture of two presumably men kissing in a garden. I didn’t find any of these images offensive personally and was quite happy about the quality of the art. The art didn’t stand out as particularly bad, and maybe I should go back through and figure out what the ratio of art between male and female. Overall I found the book very enjoyable and looking forward to getting my copy in October.