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Seventh Sea
Seventh Sea's picture
Kickstarter Update 35
kickstarter, pdf, core rules, previews

QUOTE: John Wick Presents (published 2016-04-27, Friday)

Core Rulebook Preview

Core Rulebook Preview (via backerkit)

Hey everyone!

When we first started planning the 7th Sea: Second Edition Kickstarter, I told Mark that I wanted to have the book ready for Gen Con 2016. Since we didn’t finish negotiating the purchase of the IP until late in 2015, Mark said, “I don’t know. I don’t think we can do it.”

We knew that there were a lot of obstacles to getting the book ready in time for Gen Con. We needed to finish playtesting the system, write the book, commission art, edit all the writing, get the book laid out… and so much more. So we said we’d have the Core Rulebook ready in October because we knew that we could make that deadline.

Then you all raised $1.3+ Million. And you changed everything.

I said: “We can do it. We can make Gen Con.”

Mark said: “Okay. Let’s do it. It’s crazy, but let’s do it.”

And now it’s done.

Core Rulebook Preview 

In just a few minutes, you’re going to get an email from Backerkit with instructions for downloading a preview of the 7th Sea: Second Edition Core Rulebook. The preview contains a nearly finished PDF, complete with the finished mechanics, 100 pages of Théan setting, beautiful art and so much more. We’re incredibly proud of it.

We’re not going through DTRPG for this preview. You’ll be able to download the file directly from Backerkit. If you have problems, please contact us through the Kickstarter messaging system or reach out to Backerkit directly. When we finalize the PDF, we'll release it through DTRPG, but today is all about getting the PDF into your hands as quickly as possible.

When you download the preview PDF, please don’t share it with anyone. We’re close to releasing the full PDF, but there are going to be important changes as we get feedback in from the backers. (We’re also going to add an Appendix with extra maps, a character sheet, and an index.)

Backer Feedback 

The truth is… we’re not quite ready to make our printer's Gen Con deadline (May 31st). We’ve finished the book and proofed the hell out of it, but we need your help. We need you to look for typos, errors and other problems before we send it to the printer and tell them to print up 20,000 copies of the book!

But… please don’t email or post in the comments with your feedback. With over 11,000 backers, you all would quickly overwhelm our ability to deal with emails, messages and comments. Let's try to keep those channels of communication open for folks who have problems and other questions.

Instead, give us feedback via this link by May 29th at 11:59pm Eastern:

http://goo.gl/forms/By44Dv5rdxFwrA093

We have a few known issues that you don't need to submit feedback on:

  • The short story (p4) is missing some art. 
  • The map is not the final version (p21). 
  • The text is too close to the image on page 182
  • We have not yet filled in the "page XX" references

We will have all these problems (and others you spot!) fixed when Thomas runs through the PDF next week to make final changes. Huge thanks to our proofers who have already done a full pass on the book and caught many, many problems: Shelley Harlan, J. Derrick Kapchinsky, Carrie Ulrich and Amanda Valentine. Thank you!

And now... I can’t wait to hear what you all think of the book. It’s the 7th Sea I’ve always wanted to make, packed from cover to cover with the best version of Théah that’s ever seen print. Thank you so much for helping me to make this a reality!

Backerkit Housekeeping 

In addition to releasing the Core Rulebook preview, we also released the Swashbuckling Adventures corebook and locked down Backerkit this past month. If you’ve got any problems with getting your Swashbuckling Adventures corebook (or any of your PDFs) or your Backerkit account, please contact us via Kickstarter message.

We’ll be charging folks on June 1st, 2016 via Backerkit. I know we slipped a bit on the lockdown deadline, but we won’t miss this one. After all, the book will already be at the printer. :)

Writing Submissions 

Finally, a quick note on writing submissions. We got… a ton of awesome applications. We expected a few good writers, but there were over 400 great applications. Amazing.

Unfortunately, we don’t have time to reply to all the folks who applied. In general, if we haven’t contacted you yet, your application didn’t get selected yet. But we’re also going to keep going back to that pool to look for more writers as the line develops, so don’t give up hope yet!

Next Steps 

We’ll have more info on Monday about finalizing the PDF, but our next steps are pretty simple: 

  • get the book to the printer next week
  • get the books from the printer in July
  • ship the books to all of you before Gen Con

We'll have more to say about how all that shipping is going down (and an update on the other parts of the project, like Pirate's Booty and Pirate Nations, in early June). For now... enjoy the book! 

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Ben Woerner
Ben Woerner's picture

So what does everyone think? Or is everyone too busy reading the book? :)

Joachim Deneuve...
Joachim Deneuve du Surlign's picture

First Thoughts:

Secret Societies functioning through favour points: nice way of dealing with them.

Rilasciare and Sophia's Daughters:  Not entirely convinced.

Die Kreuzritter and Dracheneisen:  oooh.

Hexen sorcery:  someone was reading The Witcher books

There's an empowered Alchemist advantage :)

Drexel has multiple stances again :(

Knights Errant:  Niiice

Map:  Magnify, scroll, magnify, scroll, magnify, scroll, scroll, scroll

Code Ronin
Code Ronin's picture

Yeah, I want a high-res map of the whole of Theah. And has anyone made up a character sheet yet?

Kevin Krupp
Kevin Krupp's picture

Here's the one I threw together for the playtest.  After having used it for a few sessions, I'll be taking another crack at it because we found some issues.

1) Specifically, while The Death Spiral is really fun themetically it's a pain to work with off of the character sheets themselves.

2) In general I prefer portrait character sheets; I made this one landscape because I just modified what was given to us in the Quick Start.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9reQ3Y3K0zedTI3WHhIbFhZOUU/view?usp=sharing

NOTE: While I've downloaded the preview, I haven't read it yet, so for all I know some of this may have been addressed already there.

Mental-Mouse
Mental-Mouse's picture

Still kinda put off some what by the seemingly near inability to fail tasks and the lack of risk involved in actions.

Might have take Pressure Mechanic an use it to modify difficulty for other things not based on having a villain around. Like Environmental Pressures...

Not terribly heroic if there is little challenge in doing anything.

Ben Woerner
Ben Woerner's picture

Not heroic for the character or the player?

True Iskander
True Iskander's picture

The first thing I looked at was the map.  And...Wow.  A good chunk of 1e is validated just by the changes to the Thean landscape.  Should be very interesting to dig through.

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
As a guy handling hundreds of players in a living campaign, I took time to browse the character generation. People are going to be looking to add and alter backgrounds. I couldn't figure out a satisfactory way to build my favorite 3. That said, I don't think allowing homebrew backgrounds will ruin things. But I would have preferred a background with some options on things like quirks and at least part of the advantages and skills. (After all, not every Orphan will be worried about keeping others from ending up alone)
Joachim Deneuve...
Joachim Deneuve du Surlign's picture

Something to bear in mind is that you have two backgrounds and only two backgrounds.  This implies that they are the two most important parts about your past, not the only things in your past.  Like probably everyone else who played first edition, I tried to rebuild a character in the 2E rules.  He was a Montaigne diplomat, who was half-blooded.  After struggling for a little while to get that to work, I realised that I didn't need to have the Porte Sorcerer background.  Joachim had magic, but it wasn't a major part of his story.  Being a noble was, and being a spy on Serine for l'Empereur was (at least to start with).  So, I used the Aristocrat and Spy backgrounds, then spent 2 of my advantage points on Sorcery.

Likewise, it's possible for people to have parents who died young without being obliged to take the Orphan background.  If they do, it implies that it was something very important to them.

Seth Woolwine
Seth Woolwine's picture

This is only a core rule book. A lot of things people seem to think are missing I would assume will have more extrapolation in the other sourcebooks. Not enough backgrounds for nations? Well, we're getting a nation sourcebook: two in fact. Not enough about ships? Pirate nations sourcebook. Not enough racial diversity? Four books for four different continents, not mentioning the Cathay book that will be coming much later. Etc.

This, so far, is a functional game. I do have one major criticism but I will save that for the feedback link in the official kickstarter update. I won't say what it involves but it rhymes with shmorruption.

Mental-Mouse
Mental-Mouse's picture

That Nation book best have that old Time Glamour in it D:!

I cannot help but greatly dislike The Knights of Avalon. Thankfully its easy enough to reflavour into something more like the Old Glamour.

Evan Sageser
Evan Sageser's picture

One thing I thought about is the idea that there might be multiple "sets" of glamour mantles, all based around different geasa.

This is especially true given that there are supposed to be several Sidhe queens.

So for example, the knights of King Eliodd could be considered the glamour of the Lady of the Lake, with a geasa to protect Avalon and her people.

But there might also be a set of mortals that had particularly impressed the Sidhe queen of Air, who might be based more around traditional trickster mantles (such as Jack and Robin Goodfellow) and have a geasa that's more focussed on entertaining the Sidhe

There could also be a more malicious glamour set for Queen Medb, the Sidhe queen of the Sea, who might have a geasa bound around more deceitful goals.

 

Hell, throw the Horned Man in there as well (he's often associated with the Sidhe) and have a glamour set and geasa more focussed on Avalon's ancient druidic past.

 

I might try to make a few "Geasa specific" glamour tricks to keep things interesting, but at their core the mantles are largely fluff (simply with different major and minor traits and a different geasa, which essentially boils down to a code to follow.)

Mental-Mouse
Mental-Mouse's picture

Thats what I've been kinda going with too.

Its not hard to modify, its just kinda annoying as Glamour was the best previosly.

Salty Dog
Salty Dog's picture

That's kind of what I'm planning on doing if the developers don't address it in a future release (Nations Book 1 most likely). The Knights of Avalon is, well, for Avalon. Innismore and the Highland Marches have their own legends and it would make sense for heroes from those realms to embody those legends rather than the Avalonian ones.

Glamour (I'm not calling it KoA) is both my favorite and least-favorite thing in the new rules because I think the base concept is great, but I hate the execution of it.

Mark Lundequist
Mark Lundequist's picture
Never received a link for the core book preview nor anything for that matter. Really not liking backerkit right now for being a first time user.
Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
I'm currently playing a kid from a middle class family that likes playing hooky to jump around rooftops and pretend he's el vagobundo. Orphan is out, urchin doesn't fit nor does farmboy. Truth is, none of the backgrounds fit. Not sure they should because at age ten, I probably shouldn't have one anyhow. And plucky kid sidekick is something a heroic game should offer.
Joachim Deneuve...
Joachim Deneuve du Surlign's picture

Hmm, 

Middle class implies that he's from a working family.  Maybe Crafter or Merchant.  Possibly even servant.

Playing hooky and jumping around pretending to be Los Vagabundo.  Criminal talks about breaking rules to do what's right.  Explorer might also fit.

Evan Sageser
Evan Sageser's picture

Yeah I'd probably go with Criminal and either Explorer or refluff the quirk for Orphan for a more Tom Sawyeresque character. (Call it Ragamuffin, or something along those lines.)

 

That's the great thing about the backgrounds: they're easy to make yourself since they're essentially just packages of five points worth of skills and advantages each. Add on a little character fluff in the form of a quirk and you're good to go.

Code Ronin
Code Ronin's picture

Alright, i'm up to the GM's rules section, and so far I love what I see. My only compaint is that there's not a section for an overview of the history of Theah. Events are discussed, but only in how they relate to the region being discussed. I'd love to get some more on the war that messed up Eisen so badly.

Joachim Deneuve...
Joachim Deneuve du Surlign's picture

Well, they are going to be releasing a board game of it, at some point.

Also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Years%27_War should give you an idea...

Ben Woerner
Ben Woerner's picture

Word is that will be coming in the Nations of Theah book. 

Marc Hameleers
Marc Hameleers's picture
Word is that you have the well informed advantage. ....
Deanna
Deanna's picture

Really digging it so far. Happy with the vast majority of what I'm seeing and I cant wait to get characters made up and start playing. :)

Kind of sad to see that skalds are touched upon but not entirely fleshed out, or at least laerdom is absent. (For now?)

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
Ben, I am seeing this "no risk for the characters" thing in a lot of the forums. Could be the same handful of people under different names but it's obvious there is confusion and it needs to be addressed better than John's traditional "I could have killed you but this is far worse" speech. I would recommend a sidebar on how to add the element of danger outside of the raise mechanics. Building threats that make the hero choose between saving a bystander and getting hurt or stopping the henchman (and maybe getting hurt). Or making situations where the danger comes from doing the right thing and drawing attention to you from the villian. And also larger dangers to a city IF you fail in the bigger picture ( instead of in terms of just the dice roll).
DaWaterRat
DaWaterRat's picture

I've done two passes so far, plus some re-reading of specific parts when explaining it to my husband and/or daughter. (She's almost 16, and all she'll give me about what sort of game she wants is "Pirates!" ;) ) I haven't submitted my list of typos and questions yet, though. I want to make one more full pass before I do that.

In general, I'm pretty happy with it. I do foresee some learning curves for some of my group (the personal story to advance your character and choosing to fail both come to mind, though for different players) but we'll adapt. :) The current structure of Action sequences reads a bit too chaotic, but I'll wait until I've had a chance to run a session or five with the official rules before I start tweaking that.

I miss Rune Magic a little bit. And while it doesn't bother me, I can understand why some people might be disappointed with Glamour as it appears here.

So far the only house rule that I'm looking at from day one is making the advancements from GM stories points that can be saved rather than requiring that they be spent right away (which is how it seems to be intended) but I'll also cap that (probably at 10) in terms of how much you can save up. Basically I can see a point where there aren't any 1-2 point things a player want to buy any more, or alternately, getting frustrated because they want a 5 point advancement and have yet to finish a 5 step story.

Well, that and I'll need to ask the grade-schooler if she wants ice magic like Elsa and have to come up with that. She, at least, will have no trouble coming up with her character's story, because she's already figured it out. :)

Code Ronin
Code Ronin's picture

I don't think you're required to spend Steps immediatley. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to save up for those five-cost advantages, like Duelist Academy.

Kevin Krupp
Kevin Krupp's picture

You're not saving up "Points" for advancement, rather you go through steps of a story and when that story wraps up you've "earned" that advantage, trait increas, skill increase, reputation, etc.

So if you want to get Duelist Academy, you'd assign a Story to your character where the end result would be something like: "Rodrigo has finally met his father's dying wish: that he follow in his footsteps and has become a great swordsman." That would then be a 5-point story. When all 5 points have been met, Rodrigo would get to write Duelist onto their character sheet.

I need to follow up with Mike, because we talked about this a bit, but the wording is kind of weird. It's presented as "What will your character's reward be" and during the playtest we ran into some problems where it felt weird saying "this is what my character will get out of this" for particularly altruistic goals. We found that a better way to look at it was, "How will your hero be changed by this at the end?" or "What will your hero need to improve at in order to accomplish this goal."

In theory I really like the idea of advancement working this way, but it is a bit obtuse, especially if you have a GM that likes to serve curveballs. 2 of my PC's original stories have already been rendered moot in my Playtest run (and we've only had 3 or 4 sessions) because of other actions that occurred during play.

Also note that advancement is REALLY hard, especially when you start considering corruption and all other advancement goes on hold.

Mind you, I don't think slow advancement is a bad thing in this game since starting characters are really capable to begin with.

NOTE: I haven't read the preview yet, I'm basing all of this off of the last set of playtest docs that came out about 3 weeks back, and assuming that not much has changed since then.

DaWaterRat
DaWaterRat's picture

For the Player stories, I get that, but I'm talking about advancements from the stories *I* write. (The Season/Arc and Episode Stories. Referred to in the section on GM stories)

For example, Elsa's cousin want's to find Hans (I don't remember what she wants to do when she finds him, but I don't think it was anything nice). So when she finds Hans, she gets the reward for her story. No problem. I get that.

However, in the course of that, we're also advancing my "Seas of Fate" Arc story where they're following a treasure map made of Sorte Cards, (5 steps) and the two sessions where we took a break from that because I got a fun idea for a Halloween episode that had nothing to do with anyone's story (3 steps).

That's 8 "steps" worth of story that I created as GM, with no designated reward (which GM stories do not have, per page 199) As written, it looks like at the end of the Halloween Episode, the PC's then are supposed to pick out a 3 point advancement, and when we finally finish the Seas of Fate story, they pick out a 5 point advancement.

I'm just making the rewards from *those* stories (as opposed to the Player's stories) points, so that the players aren't limited to 3 point and 5 point advancements, and could pick out 4 2-point advancements, or 2 4-point advancements, or any combination of advancements they like that total 8 points.

Kevin Krupp
Kevin Krupp's picture

Sorry, for the confusion, I was actually replying to Code Ronin. I totally get the point-based approach you're taking as an alternative advanceent system, and I expect a lot of folks will do something similar.

In the original playtest docs (not sure about the preview...again haven't gone through the whole thing yet) the GM decides what the reward will be at the end of GM story. My interpretation is that the intent for GM stories is that the reward should be generic: "Raise a Rank 3 Skill to Rank 4." Not every PC wants to get the "Rich" advantage, not every PC wants to raise "Hide" up to rank 4 (or even has Rank 4.)

Ben Woerner
Ben Woerner's picture

You are not required to do so.

Kevin Krupp
Kevin Krupp's picture

For "Ice Magic" consider setting her up with Sanderis and a "Cold" deivas and then downplay the bargianing with the devil elements (unless of course you think she'd like the idea of her "Elsa" character getting powers from deamons and having to bargain for them, but I'm making the assumption this isn't the case.)

DaWaterRat
DaWaterRat's picture

Something along those lines is my current plan (though I'm actually expected to import Arendelle. I've been looking up at the Vesten Fjords to find a good spot), and while I don't think she'll want the bargaining, little kids can surprise you. Either that or I'll hack the old 1st ed El Fuego into something suitable for 2nd ed and make it Ice based.

(We're 3 families of players, so we've got 5 adults (with a 6th occasionally available), 1 teenager, 2 newly minted pre-teens, and one Elsa loving 2nd grader)

Ben Woerner
Ben Woerner's picture

Could be Whacky Hair Trolls that sing about settling for a crappy life partner...ugh, hated that movie. Sorry.

Yeah, make it a bargain with Trolls or something. :)

Ed Dorner Jr.
Ed Dorner Jr.'s picture

I'm loving this game conceptually so far. I have been focused more on absorbing the rules than character creation. I'm missing something though, and I'm sure it will be brought up by my group upon introduction. Is the Signature Item Advantage the only thing in the entire rulebook dealing with character equipment and gear? As I understand it, the intent is to focus less on gear in this edition, but I'm not seeing any gear-related stuff so far.

Joachim Deneuve...
Joachim Deneuve du Surlign's picture

I remember reading that Rob had to argue quite a bit to get even the Signature Item advantage in.

There are other things: a couple of Secret Societies offer access to a Reliquary, for special items, like Dracheneisen.  Wealth is mostly used for getting hold of expensive stuff.

Joachim Deneuve...
Joachim Deneuve du Surlign's picture

Something that's bothering me is Wealth.  I can spend 3 of my starting 15 Advantage points to have 3 Wealth at the start of each session.  Or I can get a job and earn Wealth at the start of each session equal to my chosen skill.  Since most characters start with at least 1 skill at 3, that seems to underpower Rich somewhat.

Salty Dog
Salty Dog's picture

I was thinking the same thing. Maybe Rich is supposed to stack with your profession income?

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
OK, did I miss a section on languages? Outside of linguist giving a player the ability to read and speak them all, I see nothing about individual languages and learning them. (And if one of you would point that out, I have no access to the feedback today). Second item should not break the game for us but would alter the game world. That advantage to know the time within a minute... Whichever Navy recruits that guy just won the navigation war. That power trumps the issue of determining longitude.
Joachim Deneuve...
Joachim Deneuve du Surlign's picture

Unless it's knowing the time where you are now, which wouldn't help longitude at all.

True Iskander
True Iskander's picture

Yeah, I totally agree with you on languages.  Going from knowing 1 to ALL of them seems like a convenient way to avoid thinking about the issue.  1e probably made it too complicated (we didn't really need stats on pidgin and accents), but there's definitely a middle-ground there.

Joachim Deneuve...
Joachim Deneuve du Surlign's picture

The problem they have is the granularity of the Advantage points (or lack thereof).  Knowing 1 language costs 0, Knowing them all costs 1.  How in the world do you break that down any further?

The only thing I can think of would be to give people their home language for free, and 1 additional language for each point of Scholarship they have.

Alternatively, only make language a problem when it's dramatic.  And if it's dramatic, then there's a risk invovled:

The natives walk towards you and start waving their arms and chanting at you.  Anyone have linguist?  No, choose your approach and roll.  Success means you communicate that you're shipwrecked.  Risks to overcome: giving up something as a gift, 1 raise; also sounding threatening, 1 raise.  There's an opportunity of finding a shared language.

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
Ah, no comparison time to check. Good call on that. (Or one guy with a permissive GM that let's him buy it for "here" and " home"). I think I would allow that because it amuses me. (Maybe just the home part... Because it's tea time back there right now and Gran is setting out the little cakes with sugar on them, and here we are waist deep in Eisen mud).
Bradley
Bradley's picture

A small thing I have noticed and like, but think some potential players may be uncomfortable with, is the inclusion of images of same gendered couples embracing.

I support this and hope that this does not become some sort of issue with the game. I hope that we, as a society, have become accepting enough to not make a big deal about such imagery and associated idea that such a relationship is considered acceptable in a fictional setting. I really do hope this will be a thing that is generally glossed over or pointed out in a positive light.

True Iskander
True Iskander's picture

I did a double-take when I saw both of them!

I started the other thread about homosexuality, and I feel the same way.  I would love for the supplements to delve into Theah's thoughts about gayness, especially comparing the different nations.  But if JWP wish to use art and not words to say, "We acknowledge that it's there, but it's up to the GM to decide how to incorporate it into your world," I'm cool with that too.

Salty Dog
Salty Dog's picture

I think it's great that they are included, although they come off a bit heavy-handed since there's only two pictures depicting physical affection in the entire book and they're both gay couples. 

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
I keep hearing Fred Savage ask, "is this a kissing book?". Personally, I would have left all references out and told people, " it doesn't effect mechanics so run each NPC the way you want them. If it does effect the story, we will note it then.
Idesama
Idesama's picture

I think it's telling that I completely missed the art the first and second time through the book.

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
Good, that is how it should be. No controversy, no big deal, no issue. Just another picture taking up space for information. (I'm very old school about smaller art and more text in my rulebooks)
Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture

Trigger Warning: Not a rant, just reflections. cheeky

I personally prefer authors whose political views do not taint games. The same-sex scenes, though deliberately inserted, were not the pieces that spoilt the book. It was the contradiction between inclusiveness against the backdrop of an extremist Black and White morality with regards to acts of heroism.

To me it was one phrase that deliberately tried to shame players of historically-inspired violent heroes that upset the "extremist Left Wing" worldview. angry

The single word "Ever" in the phrase on Page 296: "Heroes do not commit murder. Ever" was not accidental, but a deliberate statement designed to shame players whose heroes dabble in more extreme forms of violence, such as headshots or even beheadings of enemies (including common soldiers). A classic Quentin Tarantino's action sequence would most likely fail the extremist morality of 7th Sea if heroes wantonly slaughter goons and mooks (goons and mooks may just be soldiers of low intellect doing their master's bidding without any malice of their own).

I never played the 1st edition, but was excited over this 2nd edition, because I did not expect this particular "swashbuckling game" to be so extremist in its Black and White ideology. A cop-out was included on Page 16 that encouraged us to ignore rules, but if so, why the extremist statements on Page 296.

The cop-out: "RULINGS vs. RULES" states

"We created the rules in this book to help players and GMs tell stories. We want you to think about the rules in this book as elastic, flexible and adaptable rather than final/"

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Ben Woerner
Ben Woerner's picture

UPFRONT: I had nothing to do with the writing or designing of this section of the corebook. I actually only did some pre-development history and some pirate rewrites for the corebook. So I'm not a primary source here, this is all my perspective as someone who knows John personally and also works with him, not as someone who worked on this and discussed this with him directly.

Having gamed with John on a regular basis I know for a fact he's talking about swashbuckling heroes here and the difference between justified killing of a bad guy and murder. Mike and John, and the entire design team have had long discussions about if Inigo Montoya gains a Corruption point when he kills the Six Fingered Man.

I think, personally, that Inigo is justified, he's avenging the murder of his father in an unjust world where the only thing for justice is the death of the murderer. 

So I think that's completely fine and not murder. 

But say the situation was different and you had to either tie up a guard or slit his throat when escaping a prison. An innocent guard who worked for the totally legit non-villianous City Guard, a guy just doing his job.

If you slit his throat, that's murder. You didn't need to do it. It'll be more complicated for you later, but that's swashbuckling. You don't murder, you only defend yourself when attacked and only kill those trying to kill you or to avenge the death of the innocent. But a different example you brought up: a fight with a brute squad. That's self-defense. They've attacked you and are trying to kill or capture you! That's justifed, and not murder.

You brought up Quenten Tarantino, who I enjoy, but QT is NOT Swashbuckling. AT BEST he's Noir, but he's more borderline gore and shock/exploitation films.  A QT hero would absolutely slit a guards throat. But again, that's not a typical swashbuckling hero trope, it's a Noir trope.  Heroes in Noir are grey, not black or white. I wrote an entire RPG about Samurai Noir, I did a crap ton of research on it. Noir and Swashbuckling films are my two favorite genres.

Also to punch more holes in your argument. John is a Libertarian. I'M the far left wing socialist. Btw, I LOVE guns and own a crap ton of them, so don't go making assumptions. Especially since the design team is made up of people across the entire political, religious (John and I are YUGE atheists while we have some incredibly devout religious members), and social spectrum, but I shouldn't even bring that up because it doesn't play into our decisions as game designers directly. We're trying to emulate an entire genre of swashbuckling action. Pirates of the Caribbean and Captain Blood have been bouncing around in my head for Pirate Nations, Sinbad and 1,001 Nights will be bouncing around whoever writes on Crescent Empire, and so on and so forth. 

We want to make a game that when you finish playing it feels like you were just in a swashbuckling adventure movie. THAT is our goal. And swashbuckling heroes don't commit swashbuckling murder. They may kill, and they may end a villians life via justified vengeance, but they don't kill innocents or for convenience sake. :)

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