Fruits of Investment – 7th Sea 2nd Edition

So, a while back, I jumped on the crowdfunding bandwagon when it was announced that John Wick was releasing a new Edition of the much-loved game of 7th Sea.  I’ve been GMing the original game for over a decade, so when I heard that it was getting an update, I threw money at it pretty promptly.

I don’t do crowdfunding often.  The only other time I’ve done that kind of blind faith, it was for Shadowrun Returns.  So, I kept my fingers crossed that the new Edition would be worth the wait and the cash.

Did I get what I was expecting?  Not exactly.  Am I happy with my purchase?  Yes, I am.

I had expected some re-tooling of the original game and perhaps updated mechanics for some of the sorceries and sword schools.  Instead, the system has been re-invented to a more story-based game.  Since I got into RPGs for the ability to tell a collaborative story, featuring dynamic, three-dimensional characters, this was right up my alley.  Will this system be for everyone?  No.  Players who want to roll dice to try and smash things in impressively big ways, are likely to find this system unsatisfying, since damage (and combat in general) is somewhat abstracted in favor of drama and flair.

Character creation is greatly simplified, especially in comparison to Shadowrun.  I can draw parallels to several newer systems in how damage is tracked and how characters are assembled.  The process is very straightforward and yields a relatively balanced character.  Limits that are in place, such as Trait caps, prevent min-maxxed characters at character build and makes it that min-max builds will require a long amount of game time to implement.

The most interesting (and enjoyable for me) part of the new system is the lack of experience points.  All improvements are directly tied to the resolution of a story arc… it’s an addition I enjoy.  You want to improve your combat ability?  Undergo a journey to topple a nemesis.  You want to Improve your Convince skill?  Banter with the nobles in a Montaignian court to obtain a rare artifact.  There is a logical reward for a given tale.

There are things of first Edition I will miss… several of the sorceries are gone and replaced by something new, for example.  Ease of setup will be missed as well.  I was able to crank out 7th Sea adventures fairly quickly in 1st Edition, but with the incorporation of Consequences, Opportunities and giving the players a true voice in the direction a story will take, it means a lot more designing for the GM and a much greater need for improvisation on the storyteller’s part.

However, the system has gained a lot.  I love the dramatic, action feel of the game.  The new parts of the world, like the Sarmatian Commonwealth are great additions and add an interesting new venue to explore.  Two of the new sorceries, Hexenwerk and Sanderis, are delightfully dark, capable of taking players down a much darker path where they can either seek redemption from, or ride the spiral downward until they are irredeemably corrupt.  I like that characters with a flair for the dramatic (and player to match) get to shine and are rewarded in the system… that descriptive language and allowing your character to falter at times all provide reward, in order to tell a dynamic story that you laugh about later and have those “remember that time when…” moments.

So, overall, I enjoy the dramatic feel of the game.  The new system is very light in comparison to the crunch of Shadowrun and with the right group of people, promises a light-hearted game that you will share laughs over.  The system won’t be for everyone… not everyone wants to describe everything with flourish and crave a more defined mechanical system.  Some of the powers (I’m looking at Sanderis here) in a convention or one-off setting are prone to abuse, where players won’t care about consequence, but for an ongoing campaign, I think the system will work well.

Once I have play experience, I may weigh in on this again… see if my opinion changes overall after practical use.

~ by 1nsomniac on August 12, 2016.

2 Responses to “Fruits of Investment – 7th Sea 2nd Edition”

  1. I guess my main question Jason, is will you be running 1e in September to finish our 3 parter epic, or are we making the jump?

    I personally really enjoy the new book but haven’t got as far into the mechanics as you have. But I still feel that twinge of nostalgia for my Cathay Guardswoman since there’s not even the slightest mention of Cathay in the core book outside of the map.

    • For the forthcoming Phantasm, I will be wrapping up the story arc in 1st Edition, as many of the character abilities of the crew of the Sea’s Plunder are no longer available in the new Edition. Come Equinox in the Spring, I’ll make the transition to 2nd.

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