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Nations of Théah: Ussura (Book 7)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/05/2016 07:58:03

Ussura is a vast nation in the north, cold and filled with tradition (some say rather superstition). Looking east as much as west, people here follow the First Prophet claiming that they need no more... except perhaps their own deity, Matushka, whose faith they meld with the teachings of the Prophet. It's untamed steppes, vast forests, places where monsters still lurk and superstitions can come true. Yet it is by no means as backward as the rest of Théah would have you believe.

First Ussura covers the history and geography of the land, covering the story of Matushka herself and the sweep of history from the earliest times up to the present day. It also explains the local style of magic, Pyeryem, which is a gift of Matushka and unlike most magics is not found exclusively in those of noble birth. Formed out of a fusion of five fiefdoms, Ussura is ruled by a 'Gaius' chosen personally, it is believed, by Matushka who signifies her choice by turning the individual's hair snow-white... but more remarkably, the chosen one is almost always a peasant despite the noble class, the boyars, being otherwise a significant part of the country's government, with the heads of the five kingdoms providing a ruling council.

Discussions follow on the governance of the land, its social composition and more. It's a stratified society with each layer secure in its positions and responsibilities. The discourse moves on to the land itself - and this time there's actually a map showing where the places discussed are to be found! This is a great help as the five kingdoms are discribed. Read here about the ruling families, about the towns and other notable features. And then of course there's religion. Ussuran Orthodoxy recognises but one Prophet, the first one. Culture is also covered, much of it being either religious or practical. Ussurans have great respect for the law and a fondness for giving gifts. Outsiders forget this at their peril.

Next, Hero introduces a gallery of prominent NPCs (stats and secrets about them are found later on in the GM's section). This is followed by Drama, home of new rules. There are new Pyeryem knacks and boons to acquire, new backgrounds and skills, and new swordsman schools... er, sort of, one teaches fighting not with swords but with hand axes, whilst schools dedicated to archery and wrestling are also available. There are also rules for busking, in case you can perform but are short of cash!

The final section is Lifeblood, which is divided into Player and GM sections. The Player section has a discussion of the nature of Pyeryem, a sorcery in which the practitioner literally becomes another animal, and more about the Usurran 'style' of life, useful when playing one. Meanwhile the GM gets the lowdown on who Matushka really is, NPC secrets and a few new monsters.

Again, a rich background exploring part of the fascinating world that is Théah - some may say 'too much' but if, like me, the joy of role-playing is creating an alternate reality, this is a mature and well-developed one you can imagine visiting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Nations of Théah: Ussura (Book 7)
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Nations of Théah: Vodacce (Book 6)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/02/2016 08:38:18

Vodacce can be summed up in terms of manipulation and deceit. It's a place where you need to watch your step, yet it's welcoming... if on its own terms. It's a land of wealthy merchants, fierce honour and convoluted plots, beautiful architecture, treachery, passion and pride. The Introduction explains this and introduces the rest of the book.

First up, Vodacce starts with the history of the country from ancient times right up to the present day... and I mean ancient, apparently scholars believe Vodacce to be the cradle of sentient human life on Théah. Seat of a world-spanning empire, this began to be disrupted by the arrival of the First Prophet on Vodacce's very streets, leading to the establishment of the Vaticine Church. From then on, Church history was closely entwined with the nation's - particularly as most of the ruling noble houses practised sorcery, something the Church condemned. However a thousand years later, the Third Prophet announced that the new home of the Church would now be in Castille, not Vodacce, which led to a bitter war between the two nations in which Castille was ultimately victorious. Undaunted, the nobles in Vodacce resumed their power struggles, the nation remained stauchly Vaticine in belief, and both art and science flourished. In the present day, it's still prosperous but divided with seven merchant princes all hoping to rule a united nation.

These princes are then detailed, along with all the intrigues and facets of the Great Game they delight in playing. Of significance is the number of bastards - with public acceptance of courtesans and mistresses, genealogy is a nightmare, yet everyone is very proud of their bloodline. There are also a couple of families not now in contention for rulership, but still hanging around on the edges. We also find out about notable places - and in the next chapter, Heroes, people - that the party may get to know if their travels take them to Vodacce. There are a couple of quite good maps of the nation's islands, but an overall map would have been helpful, particularly as the locations descriptions start by talking about there being eight provinces - OK, but where are they? That aside, there's loads of material to help the place come to life in your game, and that's before you get to the culture and religion notes at the end. Music and opera are popular but there's an odd thing... very few women learn to read, not even (especially?) noble ones.

In the Drama section we learn about new Sorté rules - the prevalent form of magic that warps destiny - as well as new backgrounds, skills, a single knack, advantages and equipment. And of course more swordsman schools. Note that duelling is accepted practice in Vodacce unlike most of the rest of Théah, so it's all the more important to be able to handle a sword. Given the artform to which intrigue has been raised here, I suppose it's inevitable to also have some new poisons...

Finally, Cunning provides details of the Great Game for players and GMs alike. There are also pieces on how Vodacceans view honour and the place of women. For a start, only women practice Sorté magic. Playing one is challenging at times, but can be extremely rewarding especially if you like behind-the-scenes intrigue and manipulation. For GMs there are dark secrets and stat blocks for the NPCs introduced in Hero, notes on Fate and a couple of new monsters.

Another book that gets you thinking of reasons to send your party to the nation described, because reading it makes you really want to go there as it comes to life on the pages.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Nations of Théah: Vodacce (Book 6)
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Nations of Théah: Eisen (Book 4)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/01/2016 08:03:37

The Introduction paints the picture of lands reeling from a generation of wars, seemingly no family untouched, awash in mud and blood and destruction yet still proud. Desperation and hunger are side by side with those who do good and seek to serve others.

First, Eisen tells about the country itself. Ancient history tells of a race of intelligent reptiles, the Drachen, that founded a civilisation but then disappeared. There are still 'drachen' in the land, smaller (still impressively big, though) and not at all intelligent. Perhaps they are related to the ancients, nobody knows. Centuries passed and men came, fierce tribesmen to begin with, then sweeping empires, but always a land fragmented, with tribe immediate and important, more important than a distant empire. Then the marvelous metal known as dracheneisen was discovered... Faithful to the teachings of the church, Eisen sided with Castille when the Third Prophet arose there, but a bit over an hundred years ago, a freethinking monk called Matthias Lieber promulgated ideas that led to the Objectionists: people who believe in the faith but do not think the established church is doing the right things - concentrating on amassing political power rather than caring for people. This led eventually to a vicious civil war that has wrecked the nation, and caused the leading barons to split it into a confederacy of seven self-ruling kingdoms. Now people are attempting to rebuild the shattered nation.

Next, Hero introduces some of the movers and shakers of the land - people who could make useful contacts, powerful patrons... or the deadliest of enemies. Here you find descriptions, personalities, objectives... if you want stat blocks or to find out their secrets, these are in the GM section at the end of the book. This is followed by Drama, where new rules material is introduced, including backgrounds, equipment, skills and of course, swordsman schools. This includes clearly-diagrammed ways of using the distinctive zweihander sword. You'll also find rules for mass combat here, should you wish to stage a full-blown battle.

Finally, Courage comes in two parts. The first contains information in playing an Eisen character to effect, useful for players wishing their character to come from Eisen and to GMs needing to manage Eisen NPCs. Next, GMs are regaled with secrets including the fate of the Drachen and the nature of dracheneisen, as well as those of the various kingdoms and the NPCs introduced earlier. There's a map of one town and some building plans - a map of the entire country showing the various kingdoms would have been nice - and assorted monsters, too.

Overall, there's a lot packed into this and should your adventures go near Eisen it will prove an excellent resource. Indeed should your party want to head in that direction, there's plenty to spawn ideas for plots there!

There are enough differences between the kingdoms that they appear to be completely separate nations, yet they are all clearly part of Eisen as well. Each is described in considerable detail, complete with interesting places to visit, local customs and laws, organisation and so on. And then there's Freiburg. A sprawling city-state with a very laid-back ruler and minimal law, a refuge for many, a cosmopolitan free town (and one worthy of its own supplement!). There are notes on general culture and on dracheneisen, including the secrets of its forging (or at least, details of who has those secrets!). Sculpture, opera, and literature are the prevalent art forms. You can also read how Eisen does war, learn of the mercenary warbands, or look at Eisen science and religion. Nationally-observed customs are also included, along with legends and notes on the 'monsters' that plague more remote corners of the land.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Nations of Théah: Eisen (Book 4)
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Nations of Théah: Castille (Book 5)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/29/2016 09:39:09

Castille, an abundant country full of contradictions, home of the church yet with a thriving scientific community despite church opposition, friendly and welcoming people unless you happen to be a foreigner, full of celebrations and fun amidst cruelty and hardship. Here you find passion, loyalty and devotion to duty. Cherishing tradition, the people of Castille embrace life to the full... but now they are at war, and everything seems to be teetering on the brink of destruction. The Introduction sets the scene before launching you into four sections designed to present Castille as a living, breathing element of your game world.

First up is Castille. Here you can read about the nation's long and noble history, with culture and government, noble families and interesting places all covered. Its history is one of repeated conquest, just about every civilisation that lays claim to greatness has invaded at some point (and now Montaigne are trying to do the same...). We meet the eight great noble families and a whole slew of lesser ones - plenty to conjure with if you want your character to come of noble blood. The regions are explored with concise yet informative notes (a map might help, here...) and there's plenty of culture too, dance in particular. Liturature, painting and music also play a major role in the Castille cultural scene, while festivals and celebrations are part and parcel of everyday life. Less pleasant, perhaps, to outsiders is the local love for bullfighting... although the practice of injuring or killing the bull has been mostly eliminated from the sport. Daily life, clothing, etiquette and even food are also covered here.

There is also an extensive section on the Vaticine Church in this chapter. For some six hundred years, the Church has been based here and it looms large in virtually every aspect of life. There are tales of the Three Prophets (and mention of the Fourth, who is yet to come), church history and more. Intellectual and scientific events are also covered - partly because they annoy the church so much.

Then Hero presents a gallery of the great and good, the movers and shakers from many walks of life, starting with the Good King Sandoval himself - a 16-year old boy who had never expected to inherit his throne but is doing remarkably well. Nobles, churchmen, military and others are also well-represented with descriptions of who they are and what their aims in life might be. Plenty of people to meet, influence, toady... as the party chooses.

Next, Drama is the 'rules bit' with new backgrounds and skills, new swordsman schools, new advantages and more. There's also a new (and destructive) form of sorcery called El Fuego Adentro, if you want to try that out. There's also some neat new equipment (did you think a cloak was just for keeping warm?) and some rules for building, defending and attacking fortifications.

Finally, Brotherhood contains information on role-playing Castillians, be they a cherished character or a slew of NPCs encountered in the course of the party's adventures. Life, a Castillian's very existence, revolves around your family and passion. Approach everything, large or small, with intensity and gusto. Live large. There's also material for the GM alone. This includes all those dark little secrets the fellows in the Heroes chapter would rather you didn't know, full stat blocks for each of them, and a couple of new monsters - one of which is a bull, should anyone wish to try their hand at bullfighting. There is also a map of the city of Altamira and a couple of ships.

This work is full of flavour, packed with information to bring Castille to life in your game should the party decide to visit - or to give a character from there a good feel for his homeland. A map of Castille would have been an advantage, so you could see how the various places relate to each other, but that's about the only quibble. If the plot heads for Castille, have this work to hand.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Nations of Théah: Castille (Book 5)
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Nations of Théah: Montaigne (Book 3)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/28/2016 08:59:01

Montaigne considers herself to be the centre of the world, so whether you want to run an adventure set there or play a character who hails from there this book will provide ample resources for understanding the land and its people. Flamboyant and arrogant swordsmen, court intrigue and intense emnity with their neighbours to the south, Castille, mark out Montaigne as a country like no other on Théah.

The Introduction explains a little of the nature of Montaigne. Think Alexander Dumas' The Musketeers - swagger and panache, as interested in just how stylishly you take a villain down as you are in defeating him at all. Generousity and wit... but only if you can afford it, with a massive impoverished underclass who exist (in Montaigne eyes at least) to support the idle rich. OK, not completely idle, but they wave swords around as a matter of form rather than because it is their job to fight. This is the home of literature and art on Théah, the final bastion of culture. This is how they see themselves at the centre of the world.

First comes Montaigne, a chapter that explores the history and current state, opening with a piece of fiction concerning the current Emperor, which is continued throughout the book, an installment per chapter. We learn that the Emperor hates the Vaticine Church and shelters sorcerers from the church's wrath, and as an absolute monarch, what he thinks becomes state policy. It's a land where family is important, especially if you are noble, and some sample noble bloodlines are provided for those characters seeking a Noble Advantage to further their career. They can also serve as patrons and allies (or indeed, enemies). You can also read about notable places including the fifteen provinces. Culture (on which Montaigne folk pride themselves), science, the church and much more are also covered including a fascinating section on daily life that will aid in bringing the place to life in your game.

Next, Hero looks at some of the nation's most important individuals, with plenty of detail should the party encounter them. It begins with the royal family (where eles?) and runs through other notables, movers and shakers - nobles, military leaders and others, including some the nobles might use but would never invite to dinner. Patrons, perhaps, or employers... but not good people to get on the wrong side of, that is certain!

Then comes Drama. This is the rules section with new mechanics and additional rules for making Montaigne Heroes. This includes the Destiny Spread, a novel way to determine a character's stengths and weaknesses via a Tarot reading. There are also new rules for Porté magic, the 'signature' magical style of Montaigne. There's a couple of backgrounds to consider and several new Swordsman Schools - one based on street brawling, one primarily interested in firearms and one which teaches students to take advantage of whatever weapons come to hand! Montaigne-specific advantages, organisations and even items of equipment are also found here, and the chapter also includes with a system for Courtly Intrigue. This can be fascinating or completely boring depending on the interests of your players, but it's definitely a feature of life at the Montaigne court. There's an extensive section on the famous and fabulous Puzzle Swords, and a section on mass battles.

The final chapter, Style, comes in two parts. The first, of general interest, discusses how to play a Montaigne character to the hilt, useful to those who want to play one and GMs eager to have some memorable NPCs. The second part is aimed at GMs and contains assorted secrets and snippets of information, as well as full stat blocks for the people met in the Heroes chapter. There are new monsters, too, and a chart to help you through the mechanics of Courtly Intrigue.

Overall, this paints a compelling picture of Montaigne, a country where it's good to be noble and pretty rough if you are anything else. Wonderful background for characters, and an equally good resource for GMs whose adventures will take the party there.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Nations of Théah: Montaigne (Book 3)
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7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
by ar e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2016 02:35:58

I never played the 1st Edition, so this review considers only the mechanics of 7th Sea 2E on its own objective merits. Also bear in mind that I have an interesting opinion of John Wick works in general, in that I tend to think the ideas are really unique, but the rules are a little too light for me. 7th Sea 2E, however, turned out to be just right for my taste.

In brief, if you want a fast-paced, action-oriented system without a lot of number-crunching, this is a great way to go. In essence, 7th Sea 2E expects both the players and the GM to actively tell a story, rather than react to strict rule conventions and what I like to call "gamey circumstances" (IE, "do the math, try to decide what your best course of action is").

The presentation of the book is nice and clean. The art is lovely, the world is intriguing, and everything is laid out in a fairly aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-read way. If you want rich lore, 7th Sea 2E is going to deliver. There's a lot to read, mind, but it does an excellent job of mixing various historical cultures with unique, original concepts to place you in a familiar, yet exotic world.

Now let's get to the meat: The gameplay. First, something I'm taking some getting used to is that the game isn't designed for traditional, hack-and-be-hacked combat. Actions are conducted in the framework of "Risks", which utilize a dice pool to generate "Raises" that can be used to affect the scene. You do react to circumstances at times (these elements are called "Consequences" and "Opportunities", which you buy off or simply buy, respectively, with Raises).

Otherwise, and generally speaking, you take action using Raises, and I emphasize this for a reason. In most systems, you choose your action, and your action dictates what you roll to determine success. In 7th Sea 2E, you take your action after you roll by simply spending a Raise. What do you want to do? Spend a Raise, and you do it. In this way, players alter the course of the scene itself more often than they react to circumstances.

"How do you know what to roll if you take action after the roll?" This is the "Approach". Your Approach defines your general strategy for tackling a Risk, as well as what your dice pool will be. Anytime you wish to do something the GM judges to be outside the scope of your Approach, you have to spend an extra Raise. For example, if I approach a Risk saying "I cut my way through to the foul Count, my blade dancing like a dragonfly on the water." Clearly this is a physical, combative approach. But let's say the GM informs me during the course of the round that a spear trap is headed for an ally, and I decide to grab it and brute force it from extending all the way. Very different than my Approach states; I'd have to spend 2 Raises to do this.

In general, Risks are conducted on one of two stages: the "Action Sequence" or the "Dramatic Sequence". Action Squences are quick, visceral periods of excitement, and where combat will generally take place. Dramatic Sequences are longer narrative periods, spanning hours, days, or even weeks. The danger of an Action Sequence is physical harm; the danger of a Dramatic Sequence is deciding how to spend your resources to get what you're after despite all potential obstacles.

The reason I say combat is nonstandard is because of the way it flows seamlessly with all the other action occurring within an Action Sequence. Could you do a typical back-and-forth combat sequence using these rules? Absolutely. But the design is to mix it up, swashbuckling style. For example, rather than simply saying "I swing my sword," you're expected to have the option of saying "I rush up to the balcony for a superior vantage point." Then, assuming your foe is still beneath you, your next action could be "I lunge from one balcony to the next, cleanly slicing the rope holding the large chandelier so it fall on the Count!" Now the GM might think "Hoo, that's probably 4 Wounds, easy." And he'd have to spend Raises for the Count avoiding the damage. Likewise, there may be situations where you flow from running across a rooftop, to fighting a foe, to continuing to run, to sliding down a rope onto a moving carriage, to dueling the villain atop that carriage, all in the same round of action.

NPCs are handled in a very concise, effective manner. They come in three forms. Brute Squads are your mooks. They come in groups and act all at once, bearing a single stat, Strength, and possibly a special effect they can employ. Strength is the number of people in the Squad. It's applied as damage to a single target at the end of a turn order, and every Wound sustained by a Brute Squad is the death of one of its members.

Villains are the extremely dangerous foes you'll face over several sessions. They have two stats - Strength and Influence - and can also possess the Advantages your PCs have access to. Strength and Influence together make up a Villain's dice pool, making them extremely dangerous to take on without thinking. However, Influence can be eroded through play, encouraging players to topple a villain by taking on his empire, slowly weakening him through several sessions. Conversely, Villains can attempt to regain Influence through schemes the players can attempt to interfere with. Honestly, it feels a little like a tabletop version of Shadows of Mordor's system of Orcish power structure, if you've played the game.

Monsters are a bit of a cross between Brute Squads and Villains. They have Strength ratings, and can also carry a few Monstrous Traits that make each monster uniquely dangerous.

The crux of NPCs, in my mind, is this: they are quick to make and play. This means a reduced burden on the GM, who can focus more effort on actually running a fun game. What makes each Villain unique isn't their character sheet, but how they behave. How they utilize their power and influence. It's very much a writer's system in this regard.

Sailing mechanics are also nice and streamlined, and poised to be easily house ruled if you find them a bit too lacking in complexity. You have a ship that has a tangible history, that can take so much punishment before it's useless. You have a crew that you can split into up to two Brute Squads to have at your disposal. You have Cargo, bought or looted, that you can sell for Wealth, which must be divided to your crew each session lest they grow mutinous. It's quick, it's clean, and it does its job well. (It also comes with a lot of fluff about seafaring in the world of 7th Sea 2E's setting, which helps those of us who have minimal knowledge about sailing to roleplay with.)

ALL IN ALL, I find myself thoroughly enjoying 7th Sea 2E. D&D it is not. If I had to compare it to anything, and I can only do so in terms of crunch, it's closest to Cypher or Fate. More crunch than Fate, less than things like Basic Roleplaying; roughly on par with Cypher's degree of number crunch, if just a tiny touch more. What it is, is a smooth, relatively lightweight system that emphasizes collaborative narration. I strongly recommend it for small groups who enjoy writing the scene as they play, or larger groups who want a little less bookkeeping.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
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7th Sea Adventures: The Arrow of Heaven
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/23/2016 08:30:03

Continuing and concluding a series of adventures that has 'epic swashbuckling' written all over them, The Arrow of Heaven lives up to the preceeding two adventures with more high excitment and high stakes. If for some reason you haven't played the preceeding adventures, not to worry - notes are provided to help you sweep your party straight into the action (although if this is the sort of adventure that they like, go and grab the first two adventures for them and run the whole series).

Like the preceeding two adventures, you are provided with a series of encounters that give freedom to navigate your way to the climax via whatever route works best for you and your players. Careful preparation and planning repays itself as you will be able to respond to whatever the party chooses to do yet keep them on track to accomplish their mission.

The adventure will take the party from where they left off the previous scenario and take them via war-torn Castille and assorted university campuses to the darker corners of Vodacce... and all under the time pressure of a 30-day window before the stars are right for what their adversaries are plotting. There's also plenty of opportunity to get involved with the Explorers' Society too - giving ample potential for further adventures if you want to use this to kick-start a campaign. There is a lot of atmospheric description and opportunities for action within the encounters making this a fine finale to the adventure series... and you (and the party) even get to find out what the Erebus Cross actually is!

There are hints for changing things to personalise the adventures, and to accommodate characters with lots of experience. A comprehensive list of NPCs with plenty of background detail as well as their stat blocks is provided, ample resources to help you bring them to life. Finally there's a section on the Explorers' Society, including some 'for the eyes of the GM only' stuff that even the Society doesn't know! Perhaps you can weave it into adventures so that your party make these fascinating discoveries... There are also some artefacts to play with and rules for designing your own artefacts. Other new rules include skills and templates, especially for budding explorers.

Overall, a fun adventure that has me itching to go and round up some players... what better recommendation can I give?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea Adventures: The Arrow of Heaven
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7th Sea Adventures: Scoundrel's Folly
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/22/2016 07:50:36

This is the second adventure in The Erebus Cross series, but can be played stand-alone or without need for the first one if preferred. Like the first, it takes the party around Théah, this time visiting Eisen and taking a voyage on the high seas as they complete their quest to thwart a villainous plot. The Introduction conveys the overall idea - by the time you have played all three parts of The Erebus Cross the party will have pretty much toured Théah, met some interesting people (including some of the movers and shakers of the world), saved the world from a heap of trouble and got their hands on a valuable artefact. What's not to like?

It goes on to explain the adventure structure, which is a series of events only a few of which are critical to the plot and which offer multiple paths to the desired goal. Careful study is advised, then let the party loose to do what they want and throw appropriate encounters at them as opportunity arises. It's also designed to accommodate varying levels of experience - whilst this is intended for a starting group, more experienced characters can also find enough to prove a challenge.

The adventure starts in Ussura, where the last one left off. Then events move to Eisen and on to Avalon and then to a distant island which sports thick jungles and exotic beasts, used as a hunting ground by Montaigne nobles... who, unbeknownst to them, are under threat by this adventure's villain. If you haven't played The Lady's Favour, the first adventure, not to worry. A different way to get the party involved is provided, and the action starts in Eisen directly. The encounters provided are full of atmospheric descriptions and potentially cinematic excitement. A map of the island is provided, but not one showing where it actually is... so the voyage there and back must be a bit abstract, hopefully the sea monster encounters will keep the players distracted.

The adventure ends with detailed notes on major NPCs and sufficient notes and stat blocks for everyone else that will be encountered. There is also a continuation of the material about the Explorers' Society that began in the back of the first adventure. This introduces some of the Society's major personalities, whom the characters will probably have heard of if not met, and lists their main 'Chapter Houses' which could become useful locations in your further adventures. There is also a section explaining how Society members identify themselves to one another with various code phrases... always scope for misunderstandings here!

7th Sea is a game system designed to let you swash your buckles, and this adventure is a fine example with plenty of opportunities for epic exploits, cinematic chases and more. It's one to have fun with!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea Adventures: Scoundrel's Folly
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7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/21/2016 10:25:11

One must understand two things about 7th Sea: Second Edition before playing it.

1) This is not the same game as 1st edition, so prepare for the big bad change monster 2) This RPG, like pretty much every RPG out there, is not for everyone

The faster that those two facts are realized and accepted, the easier it is to fall in love with this game. I truly believe that 7th Sea: 2nd Edition is one of the most brilliant systems I've ever seen. Since 1st edition, John Wick has clearly become much more of a storyteller. I don't think it's even possible for a rule in this game to stop play for more than 45 seconds. The system is so intuitive that the action can just keep on going. Seriously, players could probably achieve campaign-level drama/adventures in the time it takes players to go through a dungeon in D&D. It all just depends on the GM, which brings me to my next point.

The raises system is really neat and it adds a small metagame to rolling dice that's just easy enough to keep the story moving, but just different enough to make players take a second and think about how they want to make their raises. All of the other rules in the game are so simple to add on that it truly makes 7th Sea: Second Edition a breeze to play. So it really is completely up to the GM to move the drama in unique and interesting ways. The GM is to be constantly (and creatively) setting new consequences for the risks the players take, while simultaneously thinking of opportunities that are enticing enough for players to risk taking the consequences for. It can be a little daunting because the difficulty of the game is 100% in the GM's lap, but ultimately, I love how much freedom I have to tell a compelling story with my players.

I'm not going to lie, crunch in a game can be a fun time. But at the end of the day, I don't want my players to feel like they cheated death because of some mechanic, I want them to feel like they've surpassed their obstacles by being creative and pariticpating in telling a good story. It's the stories we remember most about gaming. Of course, many games still work great if you just ignore some of the rules, but 7th Sea: Second Edition is meant to be a game built from scratch for the purpose of telling an elegant, cinematic tale of swashbuckling, sorcery, romance, intrigue, and adventure.

In conclusion, I think John Wick and his team took a huge risk by making such dramatic changes to this beloved game. However, while this might not be a system for grognards, it certainly is a masterpiece for the purposes of storytelling.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
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7th Sea: Game Master's Screen
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/19/2016 10:10:23

The GM Screen is the regular sort of thing, a stirring naval battle on the player side and a wealth of useful charts on the GM's side - pretty much anything you might want to refer to during play. If you have the PDF version, print them out and stick them on card to make your own screen, if you have bought this in 'dead tree', it comes printed on cardstock anyway. There's not that much to say about a screen, really. It's a good place to organise your notes behind and if you are given to secret die rolls you can hide them from the players behind it.

However, you also get an adventure with it, The Erebus Cross Part 1: The Lady's Favour. (The other two parts of the adventure are sold separately, if you enjoy this you'll likely want to get hold of them and find out all the rest of the dark secrets. It makes for a good introductory adventure in that it takes the party all over Théah in their quest to save one Montegue du Montaigne, who is in need of rescuing! It's quite an open adventure, not a set series of events, but there's enough structure to enable you to keep everything on track. There are loads of events and encounters, but only a few are absolutely necessary to the adventure (although nearly all are linking to it in some way, there isn't much in the way of random encounters) and even they are pretty flexible about just when they happen. Ecounters are graded as to how hard they are, if your party is inexperienced you might want to avoid the most difficult ones (or put in the time to tone them down), but the idea is that there is something for everyone here, however experienced they might be. Read through the entire adventure thoroughly and decide what you want to use and when... and then find that the party might have other ideas (that's players for you!), but this structure means that it's reasonably easy to accommodate whatever they decide to do.

The basic plot is simple. Montegue du Montaigne is a General who has led an army from Montaigne to attack Ussura, at the Emperor of Montaigne's request. But his wife has her suspicions about what is going on... the background explains what is going on for you, and she will provide her own version to the party when entrusting them with a message to take to him on the battlefield. Plenty of detail is provided for you to set the scene and run whichever events you select (or all of them if you want...), as well as copious notes on the main NPCs involved. There's plenty of scope for cinematic adventure from the very start, with chases and swordfights aplenty as well as opportunities to make new friends on your travels.

Finally, there's also a section about the Explorer's Society, an organisation that features large in Théan life, and indeed in this adventure if you select appropriate events. This tells of the origins of the Society, its public face and the hidden agendas that not all the members know, never mind any outsiders! It looks at what they do and how they are organised - and provides excellent resources for those parties who enjoy exploring the world in which they live. They are pretty good for intrigue, too!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea: Game Master's Screen
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7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/05/2016 07:07:27

Die Versprechungen während der Kickstarter Kampagne waren hoch, die gesammelte Summe gewaltig. Mit solchen Mittel ausgestattet, sollte einem tollen Rollenspiel-Buch nichts mehr im Wege stehen. Aber liefert das entstandene Buch die Qualität, die bei einem solchen Erfolg zu erwarten wäre oder ist der polierte Schiffsrumpf mit seiner glänzenden Gallionsfigur unter der Oberfläche vielleicht löchrig?

Die Spielwelt

Die Bühne, die für Intrigen und Duelle im Grundregelwerk geboten wird, ist der Kontinent Théah. Um es vorweg zu nehmen: Die Bühnenbauer haben hier sehr gute Arbeit geleistet und eine variantenreiche und vielschichtige Welt gezimmert. Théah ist nach dem Vorbild Europas im 17ten Jahrhundert konstruiert worden und locker daran angelehnt, was die Orientierung in der Welt erleichtert. Vom eisigen Norden bis zum mediterranen Klima des Südens: Die Spielwelt ist groß und variantenreich. Die Beschreibung der einzelnen Kulturen fällt großzügig und angenehm detailliert aus. Jede Nation hat ihre eigenen Charakteristika, die meist im, zum Klischee überspitzten, realen Vorbild begründet liegen. Allerdings sind für ein buntes Mantel-und-Degen-Setting, das ohnehin zur gewitzten Großspurigkeit und fröhlichen Übertreibung tendiert, übertriebene Klischees nichts Schlechtes. Ganz im Gegenteil, denn dass der eitle, intrigante Edelmann aus Montaigne dem stereotypen Bild eines französischen Adeligen zur äquivalenten Zeit entspricht, schafft ein klares Bild. Die Politik der Staaten ist glaubwürdig dargestellt und ihre Geschichte sowie die Beziehungen zueinander sind gut durchdacht. Jede Kultur bietet durch die dichten und umfangreichen Ausführungen ein plastisches Bild mit Tiefe, das für das Spiel in der jeweiligen Region wertvoll ist. Viele interessante Aspekte der Epoche werden thematisiert und sinnvoll in das System integriert oder passend umgedeutet. Ein gutes Beispiel für solch eine passende Umdeutung findet sich in der sogenannten „golden liberty“ des Sarmatian Commonwealth.

Dieses an die Goldene Freiheit, eine Reform in Polen-Litauen, angelehnte Ereignis, wurde von einer Gleichberechtigung des Adels untereinander zu einer Gleichstellung aller Einwohner der Doppelnation durch Erhebung in den Adelsstand umgedeutet. Dabei wird der Vorgang beschrieben, plausibel erklärt und wirkt dadurch nachvollziehbar. Die fantastischen Elemente wirken organisch und sind gut in die Welt eingefasst. Es gibt allerdings auch einige, für den deutschen Leser seltsame Formulierungen in Bezug auf den „Eisen“ genannten deutschsprachigen Raum Théahs. Zum Beispiel heißen die drei großen Waldgebiete „The Wälder“, “The Liebliche Wald“ und „The Angenehme Wald“.

Abseits der Beschreibung der Kulturen und Nationen ist das Setting-Mahl noch nicht verspeist. Es gibt genug Hintergrundfutter, um großen Appetit zu stillen. Von der genauen Besatzung eines Schiffes, über die Vorstellung der Geheimbünde Théahs hin zu Material über die kirchliche Organisation: Die Auswahl ist groß und reichhaltig. Auch die Texte zur Magie und den Duellen bereichern die Welt weit über die Regelebene hinaus. Einzig die magere Beschreibung von Monstern, die Länder und Meere unsicher machen, trübt das Gesamtbild leicht.

Der Kontinent des Grundregelwerkes ist eine Goldgrube an Möglichkeiten für kreative Abenteuer. Verschiedene Abenteuertypen lassen sich in einer glaubwürdigen und variantenreichen Welt realisieren. Der Detailgrad ist weder auf zu kleinteiliges fokussiert, noch werden die wichtigen Aspekte grob abgefertigt. Für den Rahmen eines Grundregelwerkes ist die Beschreibung der Spielwelt vorbildlich und liefert eine prachtvolle, große Bühne, um sowohl Regisseur als auch Schauspieler zu erfreuen.

Die Regeln

Das Grundsystem ist denkbar einfach. Gerollt wird mit einer schnell ermittelten Anzahl zehnseitiger Würfel. Danach werden die Ergebnisse addiert. Jeder Zehner-Schritt ergibt dabei einen sogenannten „Raise“. Diese Einheit wird dann zum Erkaufen von Erfolgen in jedweder riskanten Situation eingesetzt. Dadurch, dass diese Regel auf jede Situation angewendet wird und somit universell funktioniert, sind die Grundlagen extrem einfach zu erlernen. Ergänzt wird das Ganze durch Hero Points, also Zusatzmünzen, mit denen sich kleinere Vorteile erkauft werden. Alle weiteren Ergänzungsregeln fußen auf diesen Mechanismen, ohne dabei komplex zu werden. Es wurde auf einige populäre Mechaniken aus Tischrollenspielen verzichtet.

Beispielsweise verursachen alle Nahkampfwaffen den gleichen Schaden. Entscheidend sind nur die ausgegebenen Raises. Der Effekt ist wie schon erwähnt ein schnell zu erlernendes Regelwerk, dass durch seine universelle Grundlage alle Aspekte des Spiels untermauert. Regelfüchse dürften sich hier wahrlich nicht wohl fühlen, denn Tiefe wird an keiner Stelle angestrebt. Allein im Magiesystem kommen ein paar neue Momente hinzu, ohne dabei an Komplexität zu gewinnen.

Ebenso wie die Universalregeln sind auch die Gesetze des Spielleiters nicht allzu schwierig geworden. Gegnergruppen, wie auch bedeutende Schurken und Monster sind schnell erstellt und leicht gehandhabt. In einer Probensituation würfelt der Spielleiter für die Widersacher einfach Würfel in Höhe dieses Ranges. Hinzu kommen noch kurze Regeln zu längeren Intrigen des Bösewichts und wenige Sonderregeln.

Das Grundregelsystem ist zusammenfassend ziemlich simpel und an vielen Stellen leider eher flach, als glatt zu nennen. Das System opfert der Simplizität fast jede Tiefe. Ob man sich damit wohlfühlt ist Geschmackssache. Dabei lesen sich die wenigen Regeln stellenweise nicht befriedigend. Ein genaueres Einzelurteil wird der Spieltest bringen. Viel blättern ist aber nicht nötig und die Regeln dürften schnell verinnerlicht sein.

Erzählspiel als Paradigma

Diese Grundlage soll aber noch durch weitere Methodik das Erzählspiel fördern. Dieser Anspruch wird durch mehrere Mechaniken versucht zu erreichen. Zunächst gibt es Bonuswürfel für Flair-Aktionen, also für eine kreative Beschreibung seitens des Spielers, sowie den erstmaligen Einsatz einer Fähigkeit in einer Szene, also für ideenreichen Abwechslungsreichtum. Diese Animation scheint anwendbar zu sein und dürfte den Drang zu wirklicher Erzählung, statt simplen Phrasen wie „Ich greife an“, fördern.

Man merkt dem System an allen Ecken und Enden an, dass es den Fokus auf narratives Spiel legt, sogar auf Kosten der Spielbalance. So ist das Magiesystem mit Ansage seitens der Entwickler extrem mächtig geworden. Bis hin zur Vernichtung ganzer Städte ist einiges möglich. Die Konsequenzen dieser Effekte sind häufig erzählerischer Natur, ebenso wie die Beschränkungen zum Einsatz der Zauberei. Auch mit vielen Sonderfähigkeiten, hier „Advantages“ genannt, lassen sich erzählerische Effekte auslösen. Umso stärker dieses Paradigma wird, desto wichtiger wird gutes Zusammenspiel und Einigkeit in der Gruppe. Wo der Regelanspruch sinkt, steigt er an beim kreativen und fairen Miteinander.

Der cineastische Konstruktionsfehler

Soweit so einfach. Doch was ebenfalls tief im System integriert ist, um dieses cineastisch zu gestalten und den Spielablauf zu vereinfachen, ist die größte Schwäche von 7th Sea: 2nd Edition und lässt mich an der Spielbarkeit zweifeln. Der Spielablauf ist in Szenen unterteilt. Dies können Action-Szenen sein, sowie dramatische Szenen. Die Action-Szenen sind simpel strukturiert. Der Spielleiter beschreibt die Ausgangslage, daraufhin entscheidet der Spieler, was er tun möchte. Ist die Situation riskant, wird gewürfelt und die Raise-Einheiten gezählt. Der Spielleiter legt dann fest, welche Konsequenzen mit den gesammelten Punkten verhindert werden müssen, beziehungsweise welche Gelegenheiten zusätzlich genutzt werden können.

Das gilt für allgemeine Action-Sequenzen, als auch für Kämpfe und ist aufgrund der kompakten Form einer Runde eigentlich kein Problem. Ein unschöner Effekt ist allerdings, dass der Spielleiter die möglichen Konsequenzen vorher ausformulieren muss. Die handelnde Person muss nur mit kreativer Beschreibung ein klares Problem durch gutes Würfeln und Abwägung der Punkteverteilung bewältigen. Nachdem von Seiten des Spielers klargemacht wurde, was er versuchen will, sind ihm die Konsequenzen schon bekannt. Dadurch wird in gewissem Maße die Spannung beschnitten.

Wirklich problematisch wird diese Herangehensweise aber in den dramatischen Szenen. Die gleiche Konstruktion wird hier auf alle weiteren riskanten Spielabschnitte angewandt. Nehmen wir das Beispiel eines Balles des reichen, aber intriganten Edelmannes aus Montaigne. Für die gesamte Szene muss die spezifische Herangehensweise vorher festgelegt und der entsprechende Würfelpool aus den Heldenwerten zusammenstellt werden. Beispielsweise: „Ich möchte im charmanten Gespräch mit den Anwesenden dem Gastgeber auf die Schliche kommen“. Jede abweichende Aktion kostet statt einem Raise zwei dieser Punkte, also beispielsweise ein Taschendiebstahl im beschriebenen Beispiel. Ist der Punktevorrat verbraucht, scheitert jede weitere riskante Aktion. Dieses System hat zwei Schwächen: Erstens ist auf beiden Seiten des Spielleiterschirmes kaum die Möglichkeit zum Planen der Szene gegeben. Der Charakter kann an der Tür schließlich kaum absehen, welche Fähigkeiten er im Inneren benötigen wird. Er kann außerdem nicht wissen, wie lang die Szene ist.

Er soll sich also von Anfang an auf eine bestimmte Aktion beschränken und dabei noch rätseln, wie er wann welche Punkte ausgeben soll, ohne dabei ein vernünftiges Maß zur Kalkulation zu besitzen. Der Spielleiter wiederrum kann im Voraus nur schwer die Aktionen seiner Spieler einschätzen, was in einer Einteilung in feste Szenen eine dramatische Schwäche ist. Hier ist extrem viel Erfahrung und Flexibilität von Nöten, wodurch aber nicht der gesamte Schaden abgefedert wird. Schließlich muss der Spielleiter immer die verbliebenen Raises im Blick behalten und seine Ideen darauf beschränken. Spontane Einfälle, oder bei schlechten Würfen sogar geplante Elemente, können eventuell nicht umgesetzt werden. Zweitens ist die Anforderung die Herangehensweise für die gesamte Szene zu bestimmen in einem System mit Fokus auf Narrativität ein Unding, da es aus erzählerischer Sicht schlicht keinen Sinn ergibt. Wieso sollte der Charakter nur erschwert dazu fähig sein, innerhalb einer langen Szene seine Vorgehensweise zu verändern?

Die Einteilung des gesamten Spielablaufs in Szenen ist künstlich. Um cineastisch, eben filmisch zu scheinen, werden wie in einem Film, Szenen als Struktur des Spieles angewandt. Nur funktioniert Tischrollenspiel eben nicht nach Szenen, die wie im Medium Film nach einem Skript planbar sind. Das erzählerische Miteinander wird hier nicht gefördert, sondern in ein ungesund eng sitzendes Korsett gepresst. Die Entwickler begehen hier völlig unverständlicher Weise einen medialen Kategorienfehler.

Charaktererschaffung und Entwicklung

Einen neuen Charakter zu schöpfen, benötigt von technischer Seite wenig Zeit. Die Punkte sind schnell verteilt und auf dem Bogen notiert. Die Anzahl an gebotenen Wahlmöglichkeiten für den frisch gebackenen Weltenretter sind zwar begrenzt, dennoch lassen sich viele Wünsche verwirklichen. Wie für den Anspruch des Systems angemessen, fördert die Charaktererstellung die Beschäftigung mit dem Hintergrund des Helden mehr als das Jonglieren mit Werten. Darunter leidet auch die Balance. Die Backgrounds, also die wählbaren Hintergrundoptionen haben sogenannte „Quirks“, Eigenheiten des Helden, bei deren Anwendung „Hero Points“ zurückgewonnen werden können. Diese variieren aber sehr stark in ihrer Anwendbarkeit von Optionen, die quasi immer zur Verfügung stehen, bis hin zu Ausnahmen, für die sehr spezifische Bedingungen erfüllt sein müssen. Zwar ist der Gewinn dieser Punkte durch Quirks pro Sitzung auf eine Einheit beschränkt, trotzdem kann hier Frustration aufkommen.

Der Charakterbogen fällt ebenfalls negativ auf. Es ist für einige relevante Informationen schlicht kein Platz. Bei aller angestrebter Knackigkeit der Aufmachung hätte hier eine zweite Seite sicher nicht geschadet.

Während die Heldenerstellung halbwegs überzeugt, sieht das mit der Charakterentwicklung nach der Geburtsstunde schlechter aus. Diese funktioniert auf zweierlei Ebene. Einerseits über die persönliche Geschichte der Heldin/des Helden, welche eine bestimmte Anzahl an Story-Schritten hat. Ist das Ziel schließlich erreicht, erhält der erfolgreiche Spieler Erfahrungspunkte in Höhe der Schritte. Anderseits funktioniert dies auf gleiche Weise mit der Geschichte für die gesamte Gruppe. Auch dieses System wirkt durch seine vorher determinierten Schritte extrem steif und künstlich. Zwar besteht die Möglichkeit Schritte erst später festzulegen, das Absolvieren eines Schrittes ist aber recht vage gehalten. Außerdem bekommt der Spielleiter die schwierige Aufgabe, alle Geschichten im Blick zu behalten und relativ gleichmäßig zu entlohnen, heißt, diese auch in seinen Plot zu integrieren. Das kann gerade für unerfahrene Leiter eine ziemliche Zumutung sein.

Preis-/Leistungsverhältnis

Der Preis von mindestens 49,95 EUR ist für ein hochwertiges 300-seitiges Tischrollenspielbuch-Buch gehobener Standard. Das Grundregelwerk als PDF soll in englischer Sprache ab November kostenlos im Rahmen eines Kickstarter-Stretchgoals auf der offiziellen Seite zur Verfügung gestellt werden. Umso verwunderlicher und unerfreulicher ist es da, dass die PDF Version aktuell für 24,99 USD aktuell verkauft wird. Kollege Michael hat vermutet, dass sich Geduld beim Warten auf die deutsche Version von Pegasus Spiele auch aus preislicher Sicht lohnen könnte.

Erscheinungsbild

7th-sea-2nd-edition-cover-review-germanDas Erscheinungsbild des Bandes ist absolut vorbildlich. Die 303 Seiten sind in voller Farbe auf hochwertigem, dickem Papier gedruckt. Die Schrift ist gut leserlich und das gesamte Layout wurde übersichtlich strukturiert. Ein Index sorgt in dem ohnehin gut durchdachten Band für noch leichteres zurechtfinden. Die Illustrationen sind durchweg schön geworden und geben einen tollen Eindruck Théahs in all seiner Pracht. Sehr positiv empfinde ich die, in Rollenspielbüchern leider seltene, Darstellung von homosexuellen Paaren beiderlei Geschlechts. Außerdem ist der Stil der Illustrationen einheitlich und wirkt nie unpassend.

Fazit

7th Sea: 2nd Edition ist ein janusköpfiges Wesen. Einerseits ist da das freundlich lächelnde Gesicht, das mit einer tollen Spielwelt, mit reichlich Ideen und einem spannenden Setting punktet. Aus dem strahlenden Auge dieses Antlitzes schaut mich ein schön illustriertes und gelayoutetes Werk an, das zum Weiterlesen einlädt. Wäre es nur dieses Gesicht würde ich dieses System wirklich lieben. Doch unter dem schönen Schein lauert ein anderes Sein. Flach, leicht mager und irgendwie erzwungen künstlich wirkend, blickt das Regelwerk den Leser an.

Und an diesen nicht zu Ende gedachten Weltgesetzen, die Erzählung fördern wollen, dabei aber dem Spielfluss Eisenfesseln schmieden, scheitert der Band. Das System ist trotz der einfachen Regeln nicht wirklich für Einsteiger zu empfehlen, da die arg konstruierten Spielstrukturen gerade unerfahrene Spielleiter schnell überfordern könnten.

Für diesen Ersteindruck habe ich den Band gründlich gelesen und einen Charakter erstellt, sowie beispielhafte Situationen nachvollzogen. Eine Jungfernfahrt, also ein ausgiebiger Spieletest, der die vermuteten Schwächen im Regelwerk testen wird, folgt.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
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7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
by pawel t. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/17/2016 05:20:21

I love RPG. I play above 20 years. And I love 7th Sea. But I am fan, not fanatic. 1st edition, in my opinion, was (is) one of the best RPG ever. Intresting world and NPC, nice mechanics, loot of swordsman styles, sorceries, secrets... everything. Ofcourse some things need little change, but in all this system was great.

2nd edition is poor game for not requiring player and GM, for oneshot adventures. No equipment, no swordsman styles, no any personality. In 1st edition dueling was greate and uncommon; we spend even entire sesion on dueling tournament. In 2nd dueling are boring and no matter what weapon or style You use, it any time will be this same - cuting and slashing, and calculation of Rises. Secret Society are common and dont have nothing mystery. NPC are poor and boring - Villians have two number; it makes them very interested (!!!) Odd geography (I dont understeand why Montaigne is in Spain, Castille is in Itally, Eisen is in France, Vodacce i Turkey, and so on). 2nd edition in fact is a game XXI century... not simply and interesting but common. Common in any sense. Traits limitation are Ok, but... when Hero grow in one Trait, they must low in onther Trait. This is ridiculus. Hero cannot be strong and wise, or wise, brisk and and dexterous. Jack Sparow not exist in 7th Sea 2nd ed. Any Hero not exist; only common characters.

I am very disapointed 2nd edition. Only what interesting me now in this, is story, new places, and plot... but I not expect too much, after "secret society's". Before I wait for new places, lands, interesting NPC, and stuff (Sorcery, Swordsman School, and so) but now I know that they not will be. Two number characters, are nothing interesting, but plaintive(?). Swordsman School are useless, Sorcery are ridiculous (especially Eisen alchemy instead dracheneisen; yeah, but now dracheneisen are magic... tragedy). "New" Secret Sorcery if will be, will be common to.

So I, and my friends will by still play in 7th Sea... 1st edition. 2nd is misundersteanding. Creating by force something new only for creating, when older need only little changes and extending, is for me withouth sense. I have all books for 1st ed in pdf, and paper-form, and buy them with pleasure. But for sure not buy any book 2nd ed. It is lost money.

And finally. It is said in my opinion, that Mr. J.Wick dont ask player, about what need change in 1st ed, and change only bad things in 7th Sea, but throw to waste-basket entire 1st edition (especially mechanic), and create "new game". From 7th Sea remain only Names... and maybe little worlds.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
by Terry H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/10/2016 02:52:33

I have finally finished reading the 7th Sea 2nd Ed. I had backed the Kick Starter, and have played and reffed 1st Ed and 7th Sea is one of my favourite settings. I have not play tested the system, so this is more my opinions from reading the book.

While some things look familiar the game system has actually changed a lot from 1st Ed.

Characters are reasonably heroic at character creation. The character creation is very simple and the number of skills have reduced greatly. Ie down to 16 in total. The Backgrounds and skill points means you can actually have 1 rank in all of them and still have 4 points to boost some of them. But specialisation is useful as it impacts on what you can do with the skill. Ie skills with 3 ranks or more gain special advanatges. I have managed to recreate my 5 1st Ed 7th Seas characters pretty easily (not 100% but each has the right feel).

How the skills are used and combat are very different from 1st Ed. System is Stat plus skill plus bonus dice (d10s). Roll and add up to sets of 10 or greater. Ie 6 dice might be 7, 6,5,3,2,2 So 7+5, 6+2+2, this is 2 raises.

Stats have less importance than in 1st Ed, except for what you are trying to do with the skill will determine the stat. (GM advises the stat).

Rounds are based upon the Approach (ie what the GM describes and what the players decide which skill to use and how to use it) then initiative is based upon the highest numbers of raises achieved. Ie 4 raises goes before 2.

To act and succeed you spend 1 raise. You can spend additional raises to get better results, do more damage, achieve an objective or overcome a consequence (like damage). If you have 4 raises and do an action costing 1 raise, you then can act on 3, if you spend 2 raises on 4 you would act again on 2. Of you can use all your riases on one action and not act again.

As you are using the same Approach (ie skill) throughout the round, you have to think of inventive ways to use that skill if a situation changes. Or change to another skill but at the cost of an additional raise. (But there is not another roll).

Damage is very simple. You spend a raise for an action to do 1 damage, each additional raise does 1 extra damage. It doesn't matter which weapon you are using (unless it is a firearm). So a two handed sword will do same damage as a dagger, but would use Brawn + Weaponry skill, instead of Finesse + Weaponry. In theory you could use a non combat skill to cause damage if described appropriately. Ie use Panache + Tempt to flash a bit of skin to distract the brute squad so some fall over or stab themselves or the villain.

Characters resist damage by spending raises to counter the raise done by the attack. Eg a villain attacks using 1 raise plus 1 other to cause 2 damage. The person with Panache + Tempt could state they use 1 or 2 raises (if they have them) to blow a kiss to the villain causing them hesitate and therefore not attack or cause less damage.

Brute squads are still nasty as they do automatic damage equal to their current strength so a Strength 8 brute squad will do 8 damage unless reduced by actions of the characters. They however act at the end of the round unless they have a special ability.

The system is very simple but does require a bit of creative thinking, and is designed to advance the story line focus. Certainly its rules are based around story lines, ie many advantages are spend a hero point and succeed at doing something, like stopping a fight from happening, taking a NPC out of the scene.

Even character development and equipment is very concept driven. Ie to increase a skill from 2 to 3 requires 3 steps within a storyline, thus a major adventure of 5 steps gives 5 xp. (Probably 3 game sessions). Attributes are limited to a total of 15 (ie 2 increases beyond starting) which works out to an average of 3, also you can change your stat allocation as part of experience. increasing 1 stat up and another down as long as you don't go below 2. It is implied skills are limited to 5 ranks (from the character sheet and special advantages).

Money and equipment are also abstract, Ie rich advantage give 3 wealth at the beginning of a session. But it is a concept that you use to buy resources, bribe people etc. Characters don't have to worry about equipment or living as that is considered part of the game. While there is an Aristocrat background which gives to the rich advantage, in theory it is not needed to be a noble. Even the sorcery link to nobility is more abstract compared to the 1st Ed.

There has been some forum discussion around duellists being pretty powerful. They are, they can dish out a bit of damage compared to a standard fighter, on course costs 5 advantage points, but in doing so you know all there is for that school. I would have like to have seen some progression maybe limiting Maneuvers on wearonry ranks and the school. Thus there is a bit more of a diffrence between a journeyman and master.

Sorcery is a lot more accessable compared to 1st Ed especially Sorte is far more useful. There are on rolls required, pay the hero point and other costs and you activate the power.

Villains are also abstract Effectively a Strength and Influence which determine the pool of dice to roll. They can also get advantages which modifier the stats, and effectively customise the villain. A villain doesn't have stats or skills but the GM can add flavour to give a general feel of a Villain through their description and actions.

The nation books will be coming out over the next couple of years that add additional options and backgrounds.

However more than in 1st Ed you will need the right frame of mind to play and ref 7th Sea. I also see it more difficult for large groups especially from a GM point of view, and keeping track of the environment and description of actions could be tiring. Also from my experience groups of 4 players or more in a Role Playing mode as apposed to Dungeon/Monster killing means 1 or 2 people sit out of the game (especially if they aren't quick at developing descriptions of their actions).

The books itself is very beautifully presented, easy to follow and logical in layout. The nations have changed a little they still have much of the feel of original Theah. The old nation books still are useful and can be used until the nation books come out. However those use to the 1st Ed history have to consider 2nd Ed as a reboot rather than a sequel.

Ideally I would like to see the following: 1) an sample adventure like they did for the review but after rules were finalised. 2) More examples of actions and sample brtue squads, NPCs/Villians and monsters to give GMs more insight into preparing for games. 3) The Sorte deck option as part of the rules. The rule book refers to the website but the Sorte deck rules aren't there.

Note as the rule book came out very quickly after the kickstarter and was ready for GenCon so I can understand if some things were left out for later to turn the book around quicker.

Hard to give stars without testing the system. So 4 out of 5. Would have been 5 if it had the above included.

Overall the approach from John Wick and his team is to create a rules light, heroic swashbuckling system. It will be fun to do a play test some time.

That is my thoughts.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Shotgun Diaries
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/05/2016 12:31:28

I purchased this product thinkingit was a story. I was incorrect. It is more than that. It is a whole system for running a zombie campaign. I recommend it for any one looking fora fun one shot or quick start game. The rules aresimple but well thought out. Great work here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Shotgun Diaries
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7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/30/2016 22:14:25

Loved it. Absofreaknlootley loved it. However, I'm not looking, as one reviewer wrote, to "tweak" my characters. What do I mean there? If you're looking for lots of dice rolling and using that perfect build to max your damage output, this may not be the game for you. If on the other hand you're looking for some good cooperative storytelling, then you owe it to yourself to give this game a good once over.

The general thrust of this game seems to have the story in mind much more than the baggages of rules. Obviously tweaking and storytelling both have their places at various gaming tables and can be quite enjoyable. This game just happens to cater more to the latter type of table rather than the former. If that's your table, this just may be your game....



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
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