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7th Sea Quickstart analysis

7th Sea Quickstart analysis

(Copied from my husband's original Facebook post of March 7, without the crappy photo we only added for the community achievements)

My wife and I recently finished a one-on-one play session with the new 7th Sea Quickstart. Here are our thoughts:

Even with the shorthand versions available through the Quickstart, it was easy to fall back into Theah and its society. Basing the adventure on the internal state of the Sarmatian Commonwealth, the new kingdom, was a good idea, as it set the stage well in the one unfamiliar setting. The five characters were a nice spread of skills and personalities, meshing and contrasting nicely. Obviously, there wasn't a lot of setting detail, but it got the basic feel of the world across with impressive speed.

On the other hand, we're really not sure about the new system of generating Raises. It's often annoying, and the nature of the system lends itself to second-guessing in an effort to not leave dice hanging -- a truly frustrating experience. The GM (that's me) is a system wonk who loves to play with mechanics, and I quickly lost interest in playing the system as is. I love to tinker, so I can tweak the rules to taste, borrowing from 1st Edition as desired. My wife is not big on game mechanics, preferring to delve into the story, and expressed her dislike for the Raise system shortly after play began. (I think it's important to add that she didn't have an opinion on the system until actual play began.)

A more ambiguous issue is the matter of Risk, Consequence and Opportunity. In theory, this seems like a really cool way to engage the players in more than the simple success/failure skill check of countless other systems. In practice, it's going to be a lot of work. Either the GM is going to have to do a ton of advance work, knowing full well that no module ever survives contact with the players, or get extremely good at coming up with Consequences and Opportunities on the fly. My players generally credit me with being good at adapting to the slings and arrows of outrageous plot derailing, so I'm hardly new at responding to sudden changes. Having to come up with two or three extra concrete benefits and drawbacks to every single roll seems excessive. Perhaps Consequences and Opportunities could be reserved for major story beats, with a more standard resolution system handling the moment-to-moment action.

Not everything about the new system was negative. The streamlined Skill system was an almost complete improvement over the Knack system. We love 1st Edition, but sweet Theus the Knack bloat could get crazy sometimes. Sorcery might be a bit too streamlined, admittedly. Sorte seems a little much for a single Skill, and other forms of Sorcery would suffer far more from being reduced to a single metric. However, that's the only problem either of us noticed. We'll have to see the final character creation system to make a full judgement, but it appears to do exactly what it's supposed to – permit awesome swashbuckling Heroes right out of the gate.

The adventure moved along passably, in spite of our mechanical issues, until the final Duel between Ennio and Zyta. We got tired of the Dueling system and just gave up after three Rounds. (For context, we've run many duels in First Edition, several as the climaxes of adventures.) We'd have several more comments on the Dueling system, but it looks like it'll be going away. Losing the Dueling system as-is will almost certainly help, though I hope the Maneuvers and Styles remain in some form or another. It just wouldn't feel like 7th Sea without them.

Some specific notes:

p.23: "Hold up five fingers, and explain that he has until the count of zero to make a decision." The player's response to this was, and I quote, "Don't EVER do that to me." She was okay with a five second time limit, but didn't want a countdown, as she'd end up focusing on the countdown instead of thinking what to do. She thinks this is the sort of mechanic that should be discussed with players before play begins, not just sprung on them during play.

p.24: The player thought of finding some horses with her extra Raises after the leap into the courtyard. I thought this was awesome, and immediately went along. Then we discovered that 3/5 of the group had ZERO RIDE. Including the young Vodacce nobleman who was probably in the saddle around the same time he learned to walk. This is also where I noticed the issue of coming up with Consequences/Opportunities on the fly.

We're both still excited for 2nd Edition, especially with three new continents to explore, a new kingdom of intrigue to delve into, and tons of old friends to get reacquainted with. It looks like the world will be richer and more alive than ever. However, we'll probably end up changing the mechanics to some degree or another when our 2e campaign begins.

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