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Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture
Anyone finding GM's not calling for rolls?

I've been running a 7th Sea game for a year now in 2nd edition. While I love the setting and even think the rules are nice and lightweight, I've begun to see a pattern in how I'm running and I'm curious how others are dealing with it.

When the game started, I called for "risk rolls" whenever a hero would attempt something that would be considered a risk (sneaking past guards, pickpocketing someone, etc). In the beginning I would assign inpromptu opportunities and consequences and the player would assign their Raises, always succeeding and usually buying off all the other things.

What I'm finding lately is that now that Heroes have 2-3 Ranks in most of their good skills and 2-3 Ranks in Traits, plus the +1 Flair Dice (They all RP wonderfully), and the +1 Dice for first time skill use, most of the time they can get 3-4 Raises. I'm having trouble coming up with enough Opportunities and Conesequences to force the players to make meaningful decisions. What usually happens is the Raises they roll are more than enough to succeed and take advantage of all opportunities. Without trying to come up with an enormity of opps / cons that would actually force a decision, it has become common place now for me to just allow the player's to succeed in many cases. This has made it more of a narrative game in many aspects, which I'm sure is John Wick's intention, but it's also made it harder to 'challenge' the players and Heroes or have any risk of failure without it becoming a "GM forced failure" (My players rarely if ever have voluntarily 'failed' for the Hero Point).

I've toyed with the idea of making these checks extended Dramatic Sequences but that comes with almost outcome with even more overhead (especially when only one or two players are doing risky actions)

Has anyone else encountered this? What have you done if anything?

As an example from our last game, one of the players (The Hexen who's quite the stealthy character) was trying to sneak up to a chateau and get a look around. Now there are guards on the grounds that might see her, so normally I would call for a Stealth roll.

However, as the mechanics stand, only 1 Raise is needed to succeed at stealthing up to the house past the guards. She made the roll and got 4 Raises. I really didn't bother coming up with opportunities or consequences, I just narrated what she did and saw that would be about the equivalent. It would have been too much to call for a Raise to avoid every guard along the way since technically her purpose was to sneak up to the house unseen, so 1 Raise was enough. There were no real consequences outside of being side or maybe slipping in slop, but none of those could actually Wound her or cause her to be seen (As she succeeded in that with her action). I did provide a few opportunities to notice additional things, but overall the roll was mostly 'fluff' as her skill (3) and trait (3) and +2 Dice means she'd get on average 4 Raises. The situation was not so dire as to call for increasing TN to 15 with a Danger Point and even if so, that would have been 2-3 Raises (enough to succeed and get some additional information).

Maybe I'm missing out on some key thing for this, and I consider myself an experienced GM. However, I'm really struggling with this aspect of the game becoming almost "Diceless" except for some Action Sequences.

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Heng benjamin
Heng benjamin's picture
I had the same issue. I think the way raises are used in the Calliberi letters is a good example of how you could do. However, by the time my campaign hit that spot, the adventure wasn't out so I couldn't refer to it: at first, we played diceless. Then we stopped the campaign (and I directed my other campaign to a season finale). Now I'm waiting for the rules from "the east" to see if I'll give the system another chance or if I'm gonna use another game system for season 2.
Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

I'll check out the Calliberi letters adventure and see! Thanks!

BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

You know, I might just have something for that.

In all seriousness though, I think the adventures JWP released opened that up a bit.  The idea of certain Opportunities having a "group" cost (1 raise per hero) and important Consequences costing 2 raises to counter tell me that the design team was running into this issue as well.  These two tweaks are simple enough and make soaking up those extra raises even easier.

Something else I think might help (which I tried to embrace in the afformentioned project) is the idea of Opportunities as critical successes.  Yes, it only costs one raise to succeed at your goal, but then I can dribble out 1, 2 or more opportunities for the hero to REALLY show off.  This lets you soak up raises and even give some of those consequences additional weight.  I'll point to an example from John Wick himself in an interview on the Skirmish Supremacy podcast, where a hero might spend a raise to insult the Queen, and another for her to laugh it off.  In fact, once you get your players used to it, they'll probably start offering up raises on their own.

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture


   Thanks for the link I'll definitely take a look. I haven't had a chance to make anything custom yet for myself. In the example about the Queen, I see the 'laugh it off' as buying off a consequence :) I know the rules are rather 'gray' in that area, so it's good to see other options. The ones I'm having the most trouble on are individual 'risks'.

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

I don't remember where I read it (was in one of the official books), but thre pc where playing a dramatic sequence where one was actually sneaking into a building (through the roof if I remember correctly).

What I would also suggest is that if you take into consideration that the Heroes are getting more experienced and more dangerous missions, adding more detail into that chateau sneak sequence you ran might have helped too. I mean, 1 Raise to sneak past the fence, another one to open the door (it's locked or perhaps she needs to find another way in). There are also guards and she can also decide to burn a Raise so no tracks are left.

The downside to this is that you have to create more details in every scene and you said that sometimes you don't know what to do. I haven't played as much as you but whenever I look at a dramatic sequence, I can't help but split it into sub-parts depending on how many Raises the players have. If someone falls short, let other players help the one with not enough Raises.

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture



Your insight is appreciated. I can come up with some ops and cons for a scene. My issue is based upon player dice pools, I am finding the number I used to need is being easily and regularly exceeded by the Raises gotten. I was reading about the adventure mentioned I see a lot of Rank X opportunities or consequences, which seems to be a deviation from the core rules, but would help.


Tobie Abad
Tobie Abad's picture

Heroes are meant to be spectacular. So most actions simply need a single Raise and you accomplish it.
In how I've seen 7th Sea work in the games I've run and been in, the need for Consequences are really only necessary when you want to raise the stakes of a particular scene. But ultimately, Heroes are meant to be awesome. Hence, Raises actually mean "Yes, you do it."

7th Sea isn't like your usual RPG where a simple task of slipping past the guards should be a huge difficult task.
Not unless that is a highlight in the scene or a major moment of risk.

Slip past the guards = 1 Raise is enough
But if it it was a major moment in the session, like after finally rescuing the kidnapped ally, you are guiding him to slip passed the guards, then I might then add Consequences to be concerned about.

Details are not necessary in every scene.  Only in the ones where you feel you want to make the dramatic tension much higher than the rest. If every scene feels so intensely high, the lack of contrast makes things less meaningful. The game isn't meant to be simulational. It is meant to be dramatic.


Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture

I totally agree that 7th Sea is meant to be dramatic. However, when we observe obvious oversights in the core game mechanics, there is no harm in highlighting them for fixes in future sourcebooks.

For example, 7th Sea 2e offers this game mechanic that Players roll dice and gather Raises before they spend them on accomplishing interest actions. However, the number of Raises per Player is usually high and even much higher collectively for the whole group.

We also know that Players spend their Raises to empower their Heroes to influence scenes and story elements in the Heroes' favor. But during the regular course of play, everyone, especially the GM notices that so many Raises remain unspent because there just is not enough meaningful story in every scene every single time. Of course, there are epic encounters, but not every single time to soak up all those Raises.

Of course, the GM, could just throw out tons of Consequences to drain the over-abundance of Raises, but that is not really in the "Spirit of 7th Sea", so we this feedback from several play groups and GMs asking for help over this issue.

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Tobie Abad
Tobie Abad's picture

I must admit, I never had the problem of players having so many unspent Raises.
In my case, scenes always needed more rounds to generate more Raises to wrap up the encounters.
So I'm kind of confused why the overabundance of Raises is spoken of as a common issue, if it is a common issue.

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture


    "Action Sequences" haven't been a huge problem for me, though it does suffer from similar concerns that enough Opportunities and Consequences need to be created so that all characters can't just simply trade Raises for Wounds and end the Scene in 1 Round.

    My particular problem comes from individual "Risks". When a player wants to accomplish a single action outside of an Action Sequence and where 'failure' or at least complications could arise. I'm finding that it never happens that Players roll less than 3-4 Raises with their Skills/Traits/Rules in place (Trait 2+Skill 2+Flair+1st use in a Scene) generaly means on average 3 Raises. So that's generally enough to 'succeed' and overcome any consequences or opportunities. So it just ends up being more narrative than a need to roll dice in the off chance that the player will not get enough Raises. 

     I love the RP aspect but I find the story is more always just telling how the players succeed at everything :) That's hard to make interesting after a while.


BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

Here's something that dawned on me recently.  I was working on Cards on the Table at the time so I threw in a couple of cards to that effect.  But Wounds can be pretty much anything.  Fatigue, confusion, physical injury, mental injury.  They are kinda like Hit Points in OD&D now.  Even dramatic wounds barely have a physical representation.  So if you (the GM) feel a task the hero sets to might require intense physical or mental exertion, you can throw wounds at it to that effect.

Lets say a player is trying to defuse a bomb.  Sure the explosion might do phyiscal damage (wounds!) but the intense concentration can leave the hero exhausted as well (again, wounds!).  Ditto a race against time up a mountain (fatigue, so...wounds!).

In Cards, I included three variations:

  • Injury: ouch, that hurt!
  • Fatigue: boy, I'm tired!
  • and Wasting: I'm parched, hungry, and we've been walking in this desert for 2 days without any sign of water or animal life!

If/When I do an expansion, I'll probably include a few more variations as well.

I know when I read over the rules, for me wounds = physical injury.  That's what's in every example.  But it's much bigger than that.  It really is one of the few resources the players have to manage, and it resets at the end of every scene.  And the stakes don't jump until the second dramatic wound.  So if you are having issues with players leaving raises on the floor, start throwing extra wounds at them for any number of things.  (They probably could have picked a better name in this regard, but sacred cows and all that.)

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

This is a good solution for Action Sequences. However, since all "Wounds" go away at the end of a Scene, I'm not sure that adds enough incentive to spend Raises on for an individual Risk.

BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

Ah! But dramatic wounds don't. So if each scene nudges you further and further along... That's actually what makes it do insidious. Because Wounds seem so minor, until you hit that 2nd dramatic wound.

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

That's a good point. I may very well implement something along these lines to scenes that don't otherwise have the obvious potential for Wounds. Thanks!

Tobie Abad
Tobie Abad's picture

I agree.  The fact that the first Dramatic Wound is a positive bonus has had my players be more daring in their initial Risks, which nicely matches the feel of the genre.  So many times, they're the ones who even ask, "Are there possible Wound consequences?" at the early Risk rolls .

Yanecky's picture

Aren't the raises in dramatic scenes supposed to "last for longer"? I'm asking, I'm new to the game :) But from what I understood from the core book (and examples), in a traditional RPG you roll once to sneak into the castle (or more, once per each guard), then roll again if you encounter a closed door (but different skill), and so on. 

In the 7th sea2e you roll once when you begin the scene and the raises have to last for the entire scene. The question is: what is a scene? The longer it is, the more opportunities there are to spend raises. And don't froget about extra raises needed for improvisation. So, if I understand correctly, the player wants to sneak into the castle. The GM devises the scene: "Sneakin in" 

1 raise - getting it done, somehow.

1 raise - getting it done without leaving any marks

1 raise - noticing a convenient exit route

1 raise - noticing  all the entrances to the castle 

1 raise - entering through a selected entrance (but if it requires climbing, 2 raises for improv - but gets the PC closer to the target).

1 raise - overhearing a snippet of useful conversation (I've played enough sneaking video games to know that guards always have somethin interesting to say ;)

1 raise - avoiding guard dogs

And so on - am I getting it right? Moreover, the player probably rolled finesse+hide, so noticing entrances would cost extra (right?). I also feel that players can offer their own ideas to spend raises, just as they do with advantages in FFG's Star Wars, if you're familiar with it.

The scene ends, the player is in the castle, but because of the way they chose the consequences in the next scene vary.

Now, I imagine we could pull the camera up and expand the scene. Now the scene would be called "In the chateau" and sneaking in would be just a part of it. We don't pay attention to details now, gods, guard conversations etc. The player wants to sneak into the castle and steal an important document, then get out. 

1 raise to sneak in

1 to steal the document

1 to steal valuables

1 to blame the butler

1 to hide any traces of the theft

and so on...

Finally, I think that with sneaking the number of raises for success could be determined by the number of guards (and their training), so robbing an inn would be 1 raise, but King's Vault - 5. At least that 's how I'm going to do it, to ease the transition for my players.

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

You are spot on when it comes to Dramatic Sequences. My initial concern was 'single Risks' where a character is just doing something that *could* fail or could have other consequences. As it stands with the mechanics, it's highly unlikely a hero will ever fail (Get no Raises) and I've found it to be likely they always have 2-3 extra Raises to spend on any Opportunities or Consequences for that single Roll. Therefore, it usually just because a narrative to explain how the Hero succeeded, got the opportunities and avoided the consequences. There's not many times that it's ever in doubt.

BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

Yanecy, you're right on with Dramatic Sequences.  Thing is, the rules are very loosey-goosey on how long a scene is.  So I get the sense there's some hesitation as to when to use them, because no one wants to have their players stuck with nothing to do.

And you can also have group consequences and opportunities, where the cost is 1 (or more) raise per hero.  So avoiding the guard dogs could be a group consequence that everyone has to put in for (though someone with lots of extra raises could soak some of those up for the heroes with fewer raises to spend).  Ditto opportunities.  You could frame the whole scene around some big group opportunity.

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