7th Sea Quickstart: Initial Thoughts

Man!  It’s like a perfect storm of kickstarters around here.  KULT one day, 7th Sea the next.  The truth is tandem cold viruses have had us under siege here for the last couple of weeks, making it hard enough just to get done what needs to get done around here.  Writing up a blog post feels like a luxury.  Don’t worry, we’ll be getting back to Witch Hunter very soon.  But first, let’s talk a bit about 7th Sea.

First up, if you are the least bit interested and haven’t done so already, sign up for the mailing list.

Update: Since this post went live this morning, the 7th Sea second edition kickstarter has launched and, as of 11 am CST, blown past $148k (of an initial $30k funding) in a matter of hours. The campaign still has 33 days to go which, at this rate, could amount to a lot of PDF bang for your buck.  You can check it out here.

As I’m tying this, we are about 12 hours away from the launch of the 7th Sea 2nd edition kickstarter campaign.  This is a game near and dear to my heart.  Words cannot express my love for the original edition.  Reading Sebastian De Castell’s Greatcoat books really has me hankering to get back into that world.  I know the game has warts.  Swordsman are too weak, Abilities too important, and the advancement system doesn’t really hold up over long term play.  But I can ignore all that for what the game does right.  Panache, Drama Dice, Exploding Dice, Called Raises.  These are the things of roleplaying Nirvana.

Over the weekend, John Wick released a preview of the Quickstart for 7th Sea 2nd edition.  When he did, he stressed a couple of things.  First, don’t repost it.  Second, this is only a draft.  A draft of a quickstart for a draft of a RPG.  So its pointless to bitch or complain about ANYTHING in the rules because the whole thing could change on a whim.

Well, I’m not gonna repost it.  It should be available for the whole world to see soon enough.  I am gonna talk about the rules, knowing full well that these comments could be obsolete tomorrow.  Because why not?!  Plus, I suspect most of what I’m going to say WILL be valid until that big, beautiful, 300-page rulebook arrives on my doorstep.

A quick rundown:

  • The core mechanic is a variation on the Trait+Skill dice pool.  Players roll a dice equal to Trait+Skill and count combinations of dice that add up to 10 (7+2+1, 3+3+4, 2+8, etc.).  Each group of 10 is a raise.  You use Raises to overcome Challenges or Consequences.
  • Raises cancel Consequences on a 1:1 scale.  1 point of damage is a consequence.  So a hero blundering through a trap that does 3 points of damage would have to roll (and spend) 3 raises to soak/ignore the damage.
  • Game play works on bids.  The players and bad guys decide what they are going to do.  Everyone rolls and counts Raises.  Then players either spend Raises to overcome consequences, or “bid” against one another (or the bad guys) to succeed at their INTENT (essentially, what the hero really wants to accomplish at that moment).
  • Players get bonus dice for their rolls for using unusual skills, for adding cool quips and exposition, or spending hero points (hasta la vista, drama dice).
  • The original 5 core Traits are all there: Brawn, Finesse, Wits, Resolve, and Panache.  PANACHE!
  • Brutes and Villains appear to have only 1 Trait: Strength.
    • With Brutes, Strength is how much damage they do against a hero.
    • With Villains, Strength is how many dice they get to roll to do things

My general feelings are that the quickstart poses more questions than it answers.

  • Do dice still explode?
  • Does Panache still affect initiative?  Does Initiative still exist?
  • Can I still call Raises and does it still get me cool effects?
  • What does an actual group fight look like?
  • What does a fight with a monster look like?
  • What does a fight between a group of heroes, multiple villains and hordes of brutes look like?
  • What does a fight between two swordsmen of different styles look?  (In the original edition, it wasn’t that dramatic.)
  • Will counting groups of 10 be faster/easier than adding up kept dice after a bottle of wine?  Two bottles?  Rum?!
  • How the Hell am I going to do any of this on Roll20?!?!

But my biggest concern is this: Our jobs as GMs is pretty reactionary.  Players want to do something.  They roll the dice and we interpret the results.  The “bid” aspect of the new system appears to turn that on its ear.  I can’t wait to see how good or bad the player rolls to interpret the results.  Instead, I list Consequences up front and the player decides how they want to spend their Raises.  It’s a constantly fluctuating resource management game.  Do I spend all my Raises to make sure I accomplish what I want to do, or do I hold back in case the villain tries to do something obnoxious to me.

It may sound subtle, but its not.  It’s a pretty big paradigm shift.  And I’m just not sure how its going to play out at the table.

While you chew on that, I’ll leave you a preview of the new cover:


Update #2: Well this day just keeps on giving.  What is that?  Could it be?  Yes.  It is.  A map!  A new map!  Of Theah.  Here it is:



4 thoughts on “7th Sea Quickstart: Initial Thoughts

    1. blusponge Post author

      Yup. It’s still Trait+Skill. Only this time, instead of add up your kept dice, you count groups of 10 (7+3, 8+2, 2+3+1+4, etc.). Each group of 10 is a “Raise”. Each Raise lets you succeed at an action or buy off a single “consequence”.


  1. Pingback: The Monster that Ate…my Month! | …and a Brace of Pistols

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