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Harry Keller
Harry Keller's picture
Villians & Influence
core rules

Hello,

I have a question about Villians and Influence (P194)

RAW state a Villain has two traits : Influence and Strength.

Influence & Strength = Villainy Rank (which is the number of dice the Villain uses when taking a Risk)

Makes sense so far.

Taking on Villains says that heroes can foil a Villain’s plans, etc and thus the Villain loses influence, which ultimately means they will lose dice from risks, as their Villainy Rank decreases.

It says that “A Villain rolls only her current Villainy Rank when she makes a Risk”.

 

So, am I doing the following correctly?

My Villain is an Earl, who is up to no good and secretly opposing his nation’s ruler.

I chose Villainy Rank 10 for him, made up of Strength 5, and Influence 5.

I decreased his Influence by 3 points, as he has a scheme underway at the beginning of the game.

This is the scheme the players will try to prevent. So his Influence is now 2.

(I purchased Employ a Brute Squad for 2 influence, giving me 20 Brute points to play with. I spent 1 Influence on Bribing an Official.)

So, am I right in saying that at the beginning of the game, My Villain has a Strength of 5, Influence of 2 and a Villainy Rank of 7 to start with ? I just want to check I have that part right first.

Thus, whilst he was originally a Villainy Rank of 10, he’s only rolling 7 dice now on Risks ?

That looks ok to me.

Ok…moving on….

Let’s say the heroes unmask the bribed official and kill all 20 brutes. The Villain has lost those points of Influence for good and ultimately the scheme has failed. I suppose as a last desperate measure the Villain can spend the remaining 2 points of Influence to try and get his scheme back on track…

If he succeeds, does he get back the 3 Influence initially invested, plus the 2 later on, for a total of 5 and then doubled to 10 ? Or does he only get back the initial 3 Influence invested (doubled to 6), and not any extra influence spent on bringing it to fruition ?

Let’s pretend the Villain fails miserably after spending his last 2 Influence, and his Influence is now 0. Strength is still 5, as that never changes. However, he escapes (just) and is going to be a major PITA.

With 0 Influence, how does this Villain get anyone to help him or give him aid ? I see Influence as a finite currency, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

In the meta game, you could say “Well, he’s still an important man, he must have allies, or secrets he can blackmail people with to coerce them to do stuff for him, etc”

My response would be

What Ally is going to want to associate themselves with someone with 0 Influence ? The man was unmasked and his plot foiled. They’d all turn their backs.

As far as blackmailing others for leverage, My expenditure of Influence to buy brutes and bribe the official and save my own skin is all gone. I have 0 left. I have nothing left to buy to use against the players or other NPC's. I’m all spent out.

I do have my strength of 5, so I could just attack them for lols and giggles.

Basically, once Influence is 0, I can see no mechanical way RAW for a Villain to recuperate Influence, and whilst “in story telling mode” I can spin a good story about how his long lost sister returns with some coin and influence and offers to help him, that feels a bit too much like cheating to me as a GM by bending the narrative too far to my design.

Your thoughts would be very helpful to a new 7th Sea GM.

Thank you and may your sails ever blow, and your chests be full of gold.

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Harry Keller
Harry Keller's picture

Oh, as a further comment, whilst his Rank was 10 to start with (5 STR, 5 INF), I kind of figured that with full Influence at the beginning of the game, the villain must have no active schemes going on. Thus I spent 3 points of INF to launch a scheme (and have something for the players to actually do !)

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

That's not how I would play it. If I was going to be a stickler about it, I would suggest that a newly introduced villain:

- has 1 long term scheme in play (secret)

- 1-2 short term schemes in play (1 secret, 1 known)

- and is enjoying the rewards of a recently completed scheme (either short term or long term, depending on the story)

i might even go further and say a villain has 1/2 his influence banked in support and brutes at the time play begins.

but, like I said, I don't have my rulebook in front of me, so this is just throwing things against the wall.

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

What Ally is going to want to associate themselves with someone with 0 Influence ? The man was unmasked and his plot foiled. They’d all turn their backs.

Not at all. He's a strength 5 villain. SOMEONE will have some use for him. That's my first thought. He hitches his wagon to a bigger villain as a patron. Wheels within wheels.

As far as blackmailing others for leverage, My expenditure of Influence to buy brutes and bribe the official and save my own skin is all gone. I have 0 left. I have nothing left to buy to use against the players or other NPC's. I’m all spent out.

I think here you are taking the rules a bit too literally. I don't have my book handy, so I can't see what the influence cost of a blackmail scheme is. But just because his name is mud doesn't mean that noble's son wants his dirty laundry aired. But certainly you are right. A villain reduced to zero influence will probably need to skip town for a while to regroup and rebuild.

I do have my strength of 5, so I could just attack them for lols and giggles.

Well sure! Many stories have ended this way. The Count of Monte Cristo anyone?

Basically, once Influence is 0, I can see no mechanical way RAW for a Villain to recuperate Influence, and whilst “in story telling mode” I can spin a good story about how his long lost sister returns with some coin and influence and offers to help him, that feels a bit too much like cheating to me as a GM by bending the narrative too far to my design.

Again, you are taking the rules too literally in POV. The rules are there to provide a dramatic way for the players to undermine and weaken the villain, as is common in swashbuckling stories. If you haven't seen them, I point you towards both Netflix's Daredevil and the BBC's The Musketeers for TEXTBOOK examples of how the villainy rules in 7th Sea are supposed to work. Both start off with villains who are hopelessly untouchable, and end with them stripped of influence and the protection it affords them.  

But if you have to adhere to the rules as written, consider why ANY villain would spend that last point of influence? That his ace in the hole, and not something he will part with under any circumstances. That's the easiest solution to your problem.

Mars University
Mars University's picture

What Ally is going to want to associate themselves with someone with 0 Influence ? The man was unmasked and his plot foiled. They’d all turn their backs.

Not at all. He's a strength 5 villain. SOMEONE will have some use for him. That's my first thought. He hitches his wagon to a bigger villain as a patron. Wheels within wheels.

BluSponge is thinking exactly what I would in this sitation. The Villain is weakend and ready to just go all in alone against the Heroes now, they've ruined the Villain, and they'll see the Heroes dead (or worse) if its the last thing that they do. Before they can act, though, they get brought in by either someone they've answered to in the past or a new, more powerful player (maybe a new Villain that also just failed a relatively minor Sceme due to the Heroes) who sees them as a vital tool to destroy the Heroes. They think the first Villain has skulked away into the night, disgraced and defeated, but at the worst possible moment, they get swarmed by Brute Squads and the last person they expected, old "Training Wheels Villain A" with the look of mad vengeance in their eyes, and screaming, "REMEMBER ME?!," as they set off the charges to sink the Heroes' Ship. Maybe they've even got extra training or a shiny new Syrneth artifact to make them a bigger threat, as well.

Harry Keller
Harry Keller's picture

Helo BluSponge,

Thank you for your comments. Yes, it makes sense to not spend that last point of Influence on a dead duck, when the Villian is beat. Far better to save it for a scheme that will pay off further down the line and build back up again.

I do like the dynamics of Influence. It really does underpin the point that Villains can be thwarted in subtle and/or dramatic ways and players can chip away at their nefarious schemes and see their efforts make an impact.

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
Your math is all correct. My shift in thinking from yours is "when does a plot fail?" For me, once the plot has failed, it's done and that influence is lost. The next two points would need to be spent on a new plot. I am also thinking about not having them lose that brute squad forever and being able to redeploy them in future sessions. The best example in television is the Penguin on Gotham season 1. He starts super low level, gains, falls, gains more, falls further and crawls back. Sometimes he is begging for help before he turns it around.
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