This is the latest book to be finished for the new 7th Sea line. It is a quick read since just about half the page count is taken up by art and character stats (both heroes and villains as the title describes). The main complaint that I have seen and I do agree with is that the artwork for the characters is not of the same quality as the artwork from the core book, or even the non-character artwork. It is not horrible, but it is not something that I am particularly thrilled with either. Now for where this book does shine, the characters and villains, but first the start.
The first chapter is the introduction to this book. It covers what the difference is between a hero and a villain in this game, the types of heroes and villains (they are broken down into five types based on the primary attribute). A section on the redemption of villains, some alternate rules.
In the second chapter we get the heroes. We start the chapter with some advice on playing a hero and running a game for heroes. Then we see that heroes are broken down into five groups based loosely on their primary attribute Brawn, Finesse_, Resolve, Wits, and Panache. The types of heroes are Indomitable, Deft, Tactician, Steadfast, Trickster. Before each type of hero we get a couple of pages of background that talks about their preferred attribute, what they are like, their views on the various types of villains, and finally suggestions of choices to make if you want to build your own hero of that type. We then get the hero’s character sheet, and we follow it up with a page of history, goals and advice on playing the hero. Each of the heroes adds something interesting to the world and brings a number of story hooks. Some are also tied to the villains that we will get to later. Just going back through the list, I can’t find one that I like better than any of the other, they are all very well done.
The third chapter covers villains. In this chapter we get some alternate rules on schemes for villains making them more like stories instead of the way they are in the core book. In general I like these rules better than the main book. We also get rules on members of a Brute Squad becoming a Lesser Villain and Lesser Villains striking out on their own. After that we get a section on villains and duels followed by an example. Again the villains like the heroes are grouped based on a type that is based on their preferred attribute Beast, Chameleon, Mastermind, Juggernaut, and Deranged. In this chapter we get the background first, and then we get the game stats. All of them are very good, but this time I do have a couple that I think stand out such as Mary Galloway, Bogdan Snegovik, Jorunn Sno, and Pavel Toe-Biter. But as I said before they are all very well done, and I would like to be able to use all of them.
This is the end of the book, it has the new rules collected all in one place, which is very nice and Hero and Villain sheets.
And that is the end of the book. What I have found that I liked best about this book is the amount of inspiration that it gives me, not just for the 7th Sea, but also for other games. It provides a nice framework for building new characters within those five types that can be used in many system even if they don’t use the same attributes.