What’s that you say? You’re intrigued by the world of 7th Sea, but balk at the game system? It’s too handwavy? Too diceless? Too narrative? Too Wick? Besides, your players’ eyes glaze over anytime someone mentions a game that doesn’t have “Dungeons and Dragons” on the cover. Let’s just cut to the quick: you want to run a D&D game, but you want to use the 7th Sea setting.
Sacrilege?!? Heresy?!? Maybe, but it could also be a lot of fun. Hell, I’d play! I’ve even devoted some brainpower to it. I’ve long been considering a blog post on this topic but a post on reddit forced my hand.
Dungeons & Dragons: 7th Sea
Let me say this upfront: if you are looking to run a 7th Sea game using the 5e rules, this post is not going to be very helpful. In fact, I think you are just setting yourself up for a lot of work without much of a payoff. But if you want to run a Dungeons and Dragons game set in the world of 7th Sea, well there I can help you. There is a difference. And it’s easy. So easy, in fact, you could be playing tomorrow night!
The trick is in finding a compromise between the 7th Sea setting (a vast pastiche of 17th century earth) and the implied setting of D&D. If you are okay with that, then here is my very simple (but untested) recipe for doing so:
Ditch the 7th Sea national sorceries. Instead, use the D&D magic system. Each nation specializes in one or two schools of magic. (ie, Montaigne, Conjuration (which includes Teleportation); Vodacce, Divination; etc.). Likewise, certain magical classes fit those styles of magic better (Montaigne and Vodacce magic users are Sorcerers, since their magic is inherent to bloodlines. Avalon, Ussura, and the Commonwealth would all be Warlocks. Castille, Eisen, and Vestenmanavenjar would all be wizards.). Here is the list I sketched out some time ago in my handy GM Notebook:
|Avalon, et al.||Warlock||Enchantment, Illusion|
- You’ll need to make a decision about the priest class. The priest class doesn’t really make sense in 7th Sea, but has an important role in D&D. You can ditch the class by moving some of its “turn undead” capabilities to the wizard’s necromancy school for Hexenwerk. But it would be easier (and less abrasive to players) to just keep it as is.
- No non-human races. If you are feeling ambitious, you can use the National Trait bonuses from the 7th Sea rules to create similar National Attribute bonuses, or you can just ignore that and just use the standard human racial template easily enough.
Use the Firearms and Explosives rules from the DMG (pg. 267-268).
- Use the Hero Point option from the DMG (pg. 264).
You’ll want to disassociate armor worn from Armor Class. While there isn’t an option in the DMG, I believe there are house ruled variants available. Some easy options would be to allow classes to add their Proficiency bonus to AC, and/or perhaps double to Dex bonus as it applies to AC.
- If you have the 4th edition, you could do worse than adapt the Minion rules (for brute squads). This is a nice option to keep in your toolbox, but easily ignored.
Magical weapons and armor are Dracheneisen, Zahmeireen, or even Nacht, (if you want to bring those back into play). Potions are alchemy or hexenwerk (Castille, Eisen). Anything that doesn’t fit these concepts should be reskinned as syrneth artifacts or something else entirely (fey or devai crafted items? Gifts from the Jok, Bonsam, or a living god?).
And there you have it. Your conversion work is done. You’ll probably need to fine tune a few things (add Backgrounds, Feats, maybe adapt some subclasses), but you can start playing tomorrow! And if you do—or if you see something obvious that I missed—be sure to drop a message in the comments!
Quick update: Reading some of the initial responses over on the Explorers of Théah facebook group, I feel the need to clarify the objective here. This is not a blueprint for running 7th Sea with 5e rules. It isn’t about shoehorning all the conventions of 7th Sea into 5e mechanical terms — the duelist academies, the sorceries, etc. What I’m proposing is that you can use the themes in 7th Sea to alter the trappings of your 5e game. It’s going to feel like playing D&D. It’s going to look like playing D&D. You WILL be playing D&D. But that dungeon you are about to explore is in Montaigne, and the Fate Witch in your party is a creepy, veiled divination sorceress from Vodacce.
Or maybe you just need more rum!
Or maybe I do.