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7th Sea 2e Playtest (by Cory Gilman)

7th Sea 2e Playtest (by Cory Gilman)

Reposted from Cory Gilman's Facebook blog on 9th of March 2016.

So here is a quick log of my running the 7th Sea 2nd Edition quickstart adventure. With one exception the group of players I ran this for had no experience with anything outside of Class/Level systems like the D20 rules.

Before I get into the story, I want to start with some overall points with the quickstart adventure and formatting of the character sheet. Starting with the character sheet, it is noted that the skill dots add +1 die to a roll in the skill section. The fact that the Traits section did not have the same note was, initially, a source of confusion for some of my players. I would suggest either having the note in both sections in the quickstart character sheet or neither.

 

One of my two major complaints with the quickstart adventure is that the first section is very railroad going so far as telling characters what they are doing in the read aloud text. I realize that the goal was to introduce the players to the rules and there was probably not a better way to do so, but it rubbed me the wrong way and was noted as a concern by at least one of my players in the post-game wrap-up. I know that I could have readjusted things to allow the players more control, but not everyone picking up your quickstart is going to be able to think on their feet that way and reading through could give a wrong impression about the playstyle of your game.

 

My second major complaint about the quickstart adventure came in the contradictions between the Risk/Consequence boxes and the description of how many wounds the PCs had to avoid in the consequences, specifically in the ballroom and study scenes. I ran with the 8 wounds soaked as a group with each character taking whatever was left unresolved.

 

As I write out the events, I have tried to place any truly mechanical or out of character bits in parentheses and smaller font, (like this), to help separate them from the story.

 

PART ONE:

After going over some of the basics of the game system, I passed around the Pregen description sheet. At this time, I also informed the players that they could change the gender of any of the pregens, except the Fate Witch. Some people are not comfortable playing a gender other than their own and I wanted to allow them to make their choice of character based on the character concept, regardless of the concepts gender. The Fate Witch was an exception because of my understanding of the setting and the fact that there are no male Fate Witches, unless of course that changes with 2nd edition. Once they had made their choices, the only change was that Robert was now Roberta and no one had picked Aleksy. Due to his importance to the plot I ran Aleksy as an NPC who would follow the players lead.

 

As the players familiarized themselves with their character sheets I paraphrased the background of the adventure letting them know what had precipitated what was about to happen. I then read through the read aloud text, stumbling on some of the pronunciations. (Honestly, while it was nice to have a phonetic pronunciation guide for each of the pregens it would have been nice to have a similar guide for the rest of the names, perhaps as an appendix in the back of the adventure. Heck, I am still not certain how to pronounce Sarmatia.) I have to admit that in my preparation I somehow missed the section between the first two read aloud sections which encourages asking for player input. Consequently, I immediately moved onto the next section of read aloud text suggesting that the players had escaped the initial encounter with the Duke by the skin of their teeth with his soldiers fast on their heels, and I moved into the second bit of read aloud text describing the burning ballroom the PCs had just burst into with soldiers on their heels and more in the balcony taking aim down on them with crossbows and muskets. I looked to the players and asked them what they were going to do.

 

Azucena took a quick look assessing that the balcony ran the length of the ballroom but only on one side, she quickly shouted top the others to use the balcony as cover and lead the way across the ballroom the other followed her example with Ennio drawing his blades and declaring that he would provide a fighting retreat. All told the each reach the other end of the ballroom with minor injuries (2 wounds each).

 

As they entered the study on the other side of the ballroom and blockaded the door they were greeted by the sultry tones of Estera Sabat. (Again I reiterate pronunciation guide, how the hell do you pronounce, “Witam drodzy.”) She offered to assist their escape and help stop her father’s plot.

(As there was no player for Aleksy I instead allowed the group to decide whether to accept Estera’s help.)

 

Domenica was having none of it and shot Estera’s offer down after which Aleksy, wisely followed her lead and turned down Estera’s offer of assistance. With that refusal Estera left via the window, using a rope and grappling hook. The party quickly assessed the room looking for ways to get down to the courtyard below. Roberta quickly noted that in her huff, Estera had not retrieved her rope and grappling hook and that they should be able to use them. Again Azucena led the way and took advantage of the opportunity to land unnoticed by the guards. The rest followed with Ennio declaring that he would go last and again guard the retreat of the group. Domenica failed to achieve any successes and I took this opportunity to attempt to inspire more drama from the players as I had Aleksy use one of his three raises to save Domenica from her failure and described him grabbing her up with one of his muscular arms and leaping out riding one of the household banners hanging outside the window to the courtyard below. In the end all made it to the ground with minimal injuries.

 

As the heroes reached the courtyard and took stock of their situation, the Captain of the Guard Filip Kumiega approached and revealed himself a traitor, outlining his reasons to act in this way before walking away and leaving the Guards to arrest them. When he left, returning to the burning castle, Azucena took advantage of the opportunity to follow him. As the Brute Squads closed in on the remaining heroes, Ennio and Roberta began cutting them down, Ennio nearly decimating one entire brute squad on his own and Roberta finishing what he began and continuing into the next. Domenica began cajoling and coaxing the Guards to either throw in their lot with the Prince, their true ruler, or at the very least to throw down their weapons and surrender. Aleksy, inspired by his fiance’s actions, acted to support Domenica counting on his large size and legal standing to cow these underlings to his will. Meanwhile back in the burning castle Azucena had her own problems as Filip was back up by a group of assassins and got in a lucky shot on her before heading for the door further into the castle.

 

(At this point we go into a discussion about how you could use hero points reiterating the two primary uses adding dice to your own pool on a 1:1 basis or adding to another character’s pool on a 3:1 basis. The player of Ennio asked about range suggesting that as the Hero Point spent to help another PC represented support from their character he would not reasonably be able to provide assistance to Azucena. I countered saying that you would simply provide a reasonable explanation and you should be able to, for instance you could say that, “As I close with one of the guards, getting inside the reach of the barrel shoving it aside to keep it from targeting me or my allies it goes off, the bullet traveling in the door through which Filip escaped barely missing Azucena and potentially striking one of her assailants.”)

 

Azucena declared her intent to reach Filip at all costs, I suggested that due to the tight quarter of the room she would need to cut her way through at least some of the Assassins before she could get to Filip and said that we would describer he raises as her avoiding the assassins dodging and slicing through their ranks with Filip as her true goal. She managed to cut through most of the Brute squad in the first round leaving but one lone assassin.

 

At the end of the first round there were only two Strength 2 Brute Squads left with the main body of Heroes and one lone assassin was all that remained of Azucena’s assailants. The remaining Brute Squads targeted the Heroes who had gotten physical with them. After this the Heroes quickly finished off the remaining enemies. Azucena was unable to stop Filip and was cut off from him by a collapsing ceiling but was rewarded for her efforts when she was able to snag a piece of incriminating evidence off of him before the ceiling collapsed between them. Perhaps this document would help Aleksy straighten out the mess that Sabat and Kumiega had made of the Commonwealth once their forces had been defeated.

 

PART TWO:

(We were running late and my players were not particularly interested in making up stories on the spot, so we settled with just one story involving Ennio getting into an Argument/Brawl with the crew of Roberta’s ship with Azucena using some “tough love” to keep him from making things worse for himself.)

 

The Heroes were disheartened to learn that Domenica’s, and Ennio’s, father was tossing them to the wolves and would offer no assistance to the exiled prince. Determined that the trip to their homeland would not be in vain they searched for support elsewhere and found hope when they learned of a Ball being thrown by the Marquis De Rege at his estate. Domenica wrangled invitations for the Party and the group made their preparations.

 

They entered the Ball in style. Domenica in black silks and satins every bit the traditional Fate Witch her face hidden by a veil of Black Lace entered on Aleksy’s arm himself wearing the finest in Sarmatian fashion wearing a Mask made to resemble a bear. Azucena followed behind unobtrusively clad in all black with a simple black face mask her only concession to the masquerade. Ennio strode proudly into the ball in a costume inspired by the tigers of distant Cathay. Roberta looking to make a splash in her first appearance at any court wore a costume that invoked the exotic beauty of the peacock.

 

As they entered the ball Domenica (invoking her Friend at Court advantage) recognized a former maid servant of hers that her father must have dismissed from service when he learned of Aleksy’s actions back in Sarmatia. Domenica approached her former vassal and learned of the 4 major players at this event that might be useful to her and Aleksy’s plans. Along with their host, the Marquis Cesarino De Rege, these people were Count Nicostrato Guttuso; Baroness Rosa Santina Manco, and Admiral Carmen Cruz . With this information in hand they split up and learned what they could of the four possible allies before regrouping. They were able to learn several pertinent facts about each individual and having determined who have the best chance of gaining aid from each possible ally they split up again.

 

Having learned of their shared schooling at the Ambrogia Academy, Ennio opted to speak to their host himself. He approached the Marquis and immediately played on their shared schooling to strike up small talk. Ennio steered their conversation towards the idea that he had friends who needed help, playing his cards close to the vest. He was able to determine that De Rege was most receptive when he was being honest and quickly adjusted tack coming clean with the Marquis with a full explanation of their predicament. As the night wore on they worked out details of the Counts assistance, punctuated by promises to spar at a more appropriate time and place.

 

When Azucena learned of the Count’s association with El Vago, she suggested to Aleksy that they should approach him, and that Aleksy needed to give her an opportunity to speak to the Count privately. Once she was alone with the Count she used a phrase she knew that would identify her to the count as a member of Los Vagos and she told the Count of what had transpired back in the Sarmatian Commonwealth and that her employer needed help to reclaim his throne. She regaled Nicostrato with tales of Aleksy painting him as a man of the people one deeply in love with his fiance Domenica. When Aleksy returned she suggested to him that he should ask the Count to be his Best Man, and with that offer made the Count’s aid was secured.

 

The Baroness had been wronged by Count Vespucci, the father of Domenica and Ennio, and when Domenica learned this she knew how to handle her. Domenica approached the Baroness bluntly telling her what she had heard of the Baroness and her father and offering a chance at revenge by helping his daughter who he himself would not aid. The Baroness was quickly drawn in and when Domenica, seeing the strands of Fate tied to the Baroness and how they tugged at her ego, ensured her full credit and due in whatever tales were spun of the coming conflict the Baroness pledged her forces and offering to lead them in battle herself.

 

Lastly, Roberta approached Admiral Cruz. She started with their shared status as captains telling of her ship’s escape from the hostile waters of Sarmatia. She went on to talk about how the Prince had been wronged for nothing more than doing what was right. Roberta admitted that she had not so long ago been nothing more than a pirate on the sea, drawing upon what they had learned of the Admiral as a former pirate, and that if she could manage to aid Prince Aleksy in retaking his throne, that she would surely be given a legitimate position in the Court of the prince. With the promise of a favor owed to her employers the Admiral agreed to pledge support to the prince when he acted to take back his throne.

 

The heroes, having achieved their individual goals regrouped one last time for the evening. Unfortunately their troubles were not over yet, out of the crowd strode Zyta Kurowski, Sabat’s personal bodyguard and enforcer. She challenged the Marquis to a duel when he refused to simply hand over the prince. De Rege accepted the challenge but offered Ennio the opportunity to fight in his stead, which Ennio accepted.

 

(At this point I diverged from the pre written story a little, instead of only one Duel I ran three separate and simultaneous Duels. One between Zyta and Ennio, one between Estera [who had arrived with Zyta] and Roberta, and one between Filip Kumiega and Azucena [Who saw him sneaking up to the balcony with a musket]. Domenica took a side role, along with Aleksy, as her player had to leave because of a work emergency. Shortly after the first round of the duels started an extra player arrived and was offered to run Aleksy on the sidelines while he was around. I went with this so that all of the players could be involved more in the climactic scene of the adventure instead of the majority of them just being spectators. Within the scene I informed the players that the only true duel was between Ennio and Zyta and that the other two duels could be interfered with without violating the societal consequences that would come from interfering with an official Guild Sanctioned Duel. One other thing, I would swear that there was a rule that Villains take more wounds based on how many rounds of combat there have been but I can’t find it now, but that is what I went with for this final conflict.)

 

Before the Duel could begin Domenica looked her brother in the eyes whispered his name three times and kissed him on the cheek. (Using her Sorte magic to Bless his Weapon (Sword) skill.) Blades flashed, curses were uttered, Aleksy threw pieces of a nearby Ice Sculpture at Estera. Eventually the Heroes were triumphant in each of their fights and the three villains were led away bound at the wrists.

 

EPILOGUE:

In the post game wrap-up, I discussed with the players whether they had fun, a unanimous yes. We also discussed what they found confusing or did, or did not, like. Most of what I remember is in the introduction at the beginning of this post. Overall I enjoyed the system. I am still undecided as to whether I prefer this to the 1st edition and I am reserving my final decision for when the books are in my hand and if nothing else I will enjoy having the PDFs of every 1st edition book from the kickstarter.

 

Credits: Cory Gilman

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