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Thread: 7th Sea?

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    fireinthedust's Avatar

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    Default 7th Sea?

    I'm looking to scour the rules before deciding whether to purchase the pdf from Drivethrurpg.com.

    I want to know how the system *works* and whether I'd like it in play, before I shell out big bucks (being broke $12US feels like a lot to my infinitesimal fun budget).

    Can someone explain the rules to me?

    And how important is magic to the system?
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    Default Re: 7th Sea?

    The system works almost universally on what is called the "roll and keep" system. Essentially, you pick up a number of D10's determined by your skill level and how advanced the pertinent ability is. Then, you keep a number determined ahead of time. For instance, if you have an attribute of 3 (quite high) with a skill rank of 2 (middling), you would roll a total of 5 dice, and keep 3 of them. The kept dice get totaled and compared to a target difficulty set by the GM to determine success.

    That is it.

    Magic plays by the same rules, but in the end, breaks them all. It is rare, powerful, and dangerous. Especially if you're farting around with what is called "Porte" magic: the opening of portals from one location to another. Bad things happen if you screw that up, but it can give you tremendous advantage at the same time. Much of the other magic systems work similarly, but Porte is notable for its inherent danger.

    The setting is essentially 18th century Earth with the serial numbers only barely filed off. The Fae make an appearance, as does just about every swashbuckling trope you can imagine. All played exactly like an Erol Flynn movie.

    It's great fun and I highly recommend it.
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    Default Re: 7th Sea?

    Combat also uses what appears to be (as I haven't actually played it yet) an interesting initiative mechanic. You have a charisma/hero/swashbuckling stat called "Panache", and that determines how many Action Dice you roll, all of which are d10's. You then can essentially use an Action Die to take an action, but the number rolled on the die denotes when you can use it to take an action.

    A turn has 10 Phases, so you can only use an Action Die in the phase which corresponds to the number you rolled on it. That's how initiative works.
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    Default Re: 7th Sea?

    Indeed.

    Sometimes, it's a really delicate balance between going first and hitting hard enough to make that first show count.

    Having a bandolir of ten loaded pistols helps tremendously.
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    Default Re: 7th Sea?

    Something to remember about 7th Sea is that, like EVERY game John Wick was ever a part of, the setting is made of Win and Awesome, and the rules are, well...not.

    There are holes big enough in the ruleset to drive a Castillian Galleon through, but the sheer awesome-ness of the setting is enough to make it work. It helps if you think about the kind of GM that Wick is reputed to be - an old-school, Rule 0-heavy GM who is as likely to let the players try some crazy scheme totally outside the rules as he is to say "No, you fail. Period. Get bent." He's also a huge proponent of railroading players, and both his games (L5R and 7th Sea) are set up to support this.

    The rules are simply not written "tightly", in the modern sense*. As long as you're comfortable with running or playing in a game where the GM needs to have a heavy hand to make everything run smoothly, it's one of the best games out there, and the only really "good" one in the swashbuckling genre that's not horribly crunchy (GURPS, etc) or has its own real issues (Burning Wheel, Spirit of the Century if re-fluffed). If you have a bunch of "RAW-uber-alles" players, stay far away.


    *I think my favorite example of this is Dracheneisen. Instead of magic, Eisen nobles get, essentially, super-titanium plate armor that is proof against pretty much anything short of a cannon. Canonically, Dracheneisen "weighs the same per unit of volume as cork". One cubic foot of DE weighs just as much as one cubic foot of cork does. However, ALSO canonically, Dracheneisen is much denser than cork, and will not float in water. Which makes sense, being metal and all...right up until the point you realize that all density means is weight per unit of volume. So, Dracheneisen should float. IIRC, this was a huge issue during a published convention module wherein the GM was told to get any Eisen out of their armor while onboard a ship so they wouldn't drown during the fight...and then having the armor fall overboard and float away...
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    Default Re: 7th Sea?

    Quote Originally Posted by fireinthedust View Post
    I'm looking to scour the rules before deciding whether to purchase the pdf from Drivethrurpg.com.

    I want to know how the system *works* and whether I'd like it in play, before I shell out big bucks (being broke $12US feels like a lot to my infinitesimal fun budget).

    Can someone explain the rules to me?

    And how important is magic to the system?
    Drive thru RPG offers the compendium for free. Download that, it's got the core rules in there.

    It's a system designed around dramatic, swashbuckling combat, and it is fantastic at delivering that. It is, however, an entirely different system from D20, and people who have only played D&D before may have a bit of adjusting to do.

    The setting is absolutely terrific.

    Be aware that some of the latter supplements are made of fail. In particular the hybrid D10/D20 ones look as if they could no longer afford to use spell-check, let alone hire an editor. Balance gets fairly shaky earlier than that, starting with the cresent book and Daughters of Sophia. Core rulebook + nation books + secret societies are generally awesome, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swordguy View Post
    It helps if you think about the kind of GM that Wick is reputed to be - an old-school, Rule 0-heavy GM who is as likely to let the players try some crazy scheme totally outside the rules as he is to say "No, you fail. Period. Get bent." He's also a huge proponent of railroading players, and both his games (L5R and 7th Sea) are set up to support this.
    I do have to say that some of the adventures do bear these marks pretty hard. The Freeburg boxed set is fairly exceptional in this regard, as it's designed to be much more fluid in it's order, and contains a lot of background for adding additional stuff if desired.

    The game is drastically better if you keep what is awesome(setting, most of the rules), and ignore the heavy doses of railroading and the like.

    And yeah, canon does conflict all the time, if you get deep enough into it. You have cities with populations larger than entire countries and such. Just decide which one you like and stick to it.
    Last edited by Tyndmyr; 2011-04-04 at 04:11 PM.

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    Default Re: 7th Sea?

    Quote Originally Posted by Swordguy View Post
    He's also a huge proponent of railroading players, and both his games (L5R and 7th Sea) are set up to support this.
    Houses of the Blooded is somewhat different from what might be considered Wick's norm. There, players are encouraged to delibarately fail rolls, which has the effect of giving them control of exactly why they fail and plot events that come about as an immediate consequence of it.

    The exaple Mr Wick talks about in one of his Youtube updates is, you're being chased across the rooftops by your enemies. You make a jump for a nearby roof, but you set aside 3 of your dice from your pool. Then you fail the roll. But the three dice you set aside mean that not only did you fail the jump, but you (1) landed on the blacony of the lady you've been wooing, (2) that she's in and (3) she hides you from the bad guys chasing you.

    That's kind of the opposite of classic Wick Railoading and screwing players over for the heck of it.

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    Default Re: 7th Sea?

    I keep reading really good things about 7th Sea.

    Thank you for the interesting and helpful discussion on this game.

    I'm wondering how hard it is to come by the materials since it's been out of print for a while now. I do know about RpgDriveThru so I'll take a look there, but how hard is it to find the hardcopy versions?

    Since its not being actively supported, I assume there are no new material coming out for the game system, correct?
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    Default Re: 7th Sea?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kerrin View Post
    I keep reading really good things about 7th Sea.

    Thank you for the interesting and helpful discussion on this game.

    I'm wondering how hard it is to come by the materials since it's been out of print for a while now. I do know about RpgDriveThru so I'll take a look there, but how hard is it to find the hardcopy versions?

    Since its not being actively supported, I assume there are no new material coming out for the game system, correct?
    That is correct. However, there is a goodly amount of stuff out already.

    Personally, I've tracked down almost a complete set myself of actual books. A few of them are fairly costly. In particular, Swordsman Guild tends to run in the $150 and up range. Fortunately, most of it is reprinted material from other books. It's one of the least important books ever.

    If you've got the money and the motivation, it's certainly doable, but the books themselves are fairly popular, so they're not cheap.

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    Default Re: 7th Sea?

    Not difficult to find the books, but as noted, not always cheap.

    Best method is to trawl around E-Bay or Amazon and just lurk for a deal. You'll get a complete set eventually, but really all you want are the core books, the Nation books, and the Secret Society books. Maybe Frieburg. Everything else is . . . well . . . not terribly worth it in the end.
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    Default Re: 7th Sea?

    Thank you, Tyndmyr and hamlet.

    There certainly were quite a few books published for 7th Sea when it was still in print.

    It seems like the free rules compendium from DriveThruRPG would get me started. Is there a short list of what you'd consider core, absolutely required books akin to the D&D PHB, DMG, MM?
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    Default Re: 7th Sea?

    The Players Guide and GM's Guide are absolutely essential. Everything else really opens up options, but isn't really essential.

    Having the various Nation books for the appropriate characters is probably the next "tier" down when it comes to what really matters and what doesn't. Be aware that, like any set of splats, they tend to throw balance out the window; though it's not like 7th Sea is all that balanced to begin with (and makes no apologies for that fact).

    The next tier down would be the "red books" (Society books) with "Invisible College" right at the top of the list, and then the "blue books" (Swordsman's Guild, Church of the Prophets). The Freiburg boxed set is tremendously helpful, especially if you haven't GM'd the system before, but it you plan to do all your own thing, it's about the least essential one out there, so that one's kind of a wash.

    The various adventures range between "OK" and "terrible"; they tend to drop into more-or-less linear dungeon crawls through Syrneth ruins rather than being very "swashbuckle-y". I'd ignore them and make your own, honestly. Unless you're deliberately collecting all the books, of course.

    (I've got the entire product line, d20 books included. Don't bother with the d20 stuff. If there's such a thing as "anti-essential", the d20 stuff is it.)
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