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NeoTanuki's picture
2e Avalon and Montaigne seem a lot gloomier...and incomplete?
nations of theah

I sat down last night to read the Avalon and Montaigne sections of the "Nations of Theah" preview in detail.

I came away feeling a bit...depressed?

I like details such as the city descriptions, dueling customs and legendary creatures. But the description of the political situation of both nations comes across as a lot gloomier and less, well...fun...than in 1e.

For example, Avalon. While I understand the desire to make changes from the 1st edition version of the nation (as it seemed like the "Doom of Elaine" metaplot in 1e tended to crowd out any other story ideas GMs tried to set in Avalon)...I didn't feel like the description of 2e Avalon was very swashbuckling or even very fun. Elaine as described in the book is very lacking in character traits or leadership apart having affairs with two different members of her court at the same time. And the Graal Pact with the Sidhe seems to have been changed from "Humans and Sidhe coexist in relative peace while the ruler holds the Graal" to "The Sidhe show up, drive people out of their homes or tyrannize them, and set up nightmarish zones of wild magic, and Elaine does nothing about it." 

Not a very heroic setting. My takeaway was, "Elaine comes back with the Graal and becomes Queen. The Sidhe follow and start opressing the peasantry."

And Montaigne...the 1e Montaigne sourcebook was one of my favorites in the line. While Montaigne was set up as having conflict between peasantry and a corrupt, decadent nobility, the 1e Montaigne book really gave GMs and players a lot of ideas how to BE Montaigne. Tips on how to role-play a unique Montaigne style in duels and banter, guides to courtly intrigue and social repartee, awesome artifacts like the Puzzle Swords, weird locations like the Syrneth sewers under Charouse and organizations like the Musketeers. I loved it!

But 2e Montaigne? Again, it comes across as "The Emperor, his wife and the nobility are all jerks who opress the peasantry." No nifty artifacts, no ideas for different ways to launch swashbuckling adventures, just a miserable populace ruled by an unpleasant aristocracy.

It's not that I object to a setting that's suitable for a Rilisciare/revolutionary campaign. But it felt like the authors of these sections didn't imagine any other concepts OTHER than Rilisciare "overthrow the corrupt nobility" campaigns for Avalon and Montaigne. I'm baffled by the lack of ideas for playing Musketeers. Or Avalon Highwaymen or Sea Dogs. Or light-hearted campaigns as opposed to grim and depressing ones.

Another confusing issue for me was the way the text kept referring to 1e characters and subplots that aren't detailed elsewhere. Dominique Du Montaigne, Leon's youngest daughter, is mentioned as being married to Montegue...but there's no explanation of who Montegue is in 2e, where he came from, or why he is missing. A reader of 1e might have some idea, but someone new to the setting is likely to be horribly confused.

Similarly, mention is made that Queen Elaine is having affairs simultaneously with the knight Lawrence Lugh and the wife of one of the Highland nobles. But this is also confusing, because there's no clear explanation who Lugh is or the role of the Queen's Knights. It's almost like the author of that section said "I want Elaine to be polyamorous" and just shoe-horned it in without exploring the details or possible consequences. Do Elaine's two paramours know about each other? Is there jealousy that Elaine's enemies could exploit? 

In fact, speaking of those enemies, we hear a lot about the Highland Separatist faction, but there are no descriptions of their leaders or how they are planning to achieve their goals. (Except that one of Elaine's paramours is kind-of on their side, but not anymore because she's in love with Elaine now...) 

Castille doesn't bother me so far, as the whole Inquisition conflict is similar to 1e and there are a lot more interesting non-El Vago NPCs now to oppose them (Inquisitio Aquilo, the new version of Sandoval, etc.). And I haven't read the Vesten section in detail yet. But when I read "Pirate Nations", I got a great feel of "Here is an awesome sandbox of rules, locations, characters and story hooks that all fits together to give you great material to play pirate campaigns!" "Nations of Theah, Vol.1" hasn't had that feeling of awesomeness or completeness for me so far, and I think that's too bad. Though again, I really like the crunch for the new Advantages and Backgrounds. 

As a GM, I'm kind of unhappy with this approach. While I had issues with 1e's mechanics, I really enjoyed the background, story hooks and NPCs in the 1e Nation books. I'm having the opposite reaction to Nations of Theah, Vol. 1 so far. I like the mechanical advantages, dueling schools and so forth, but the story, fluff and characters for Avalon and Montaigne just don't do it for me. I do understand I'm not required to use the official NPCs or political situation from the books, but still...Pirate Nations left me going "Ooh, I want to use this! And this! And THIS!" Avalon and Montainge in NoT just left me going..."Why?" :(


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Soren Hjorth
Soren Hjorth's picture

Agreed. On the entire book. I sure do hope NoT 2 is better.

Between a lackluster Vestenmennavenjar and a waaaaay too short chapter on both Avalon and Montaigne, NoT1 left me cold except for the mechanics and Castille.

/Soren A. Hjorth

NeoTanuki's picture

It felt to me like the Castille section was written by a person (or persons) who enjoys the idea of adventuring in Castille. Sure the Inquisition has an iron grip on the nation, but the people are passionate and admirable, the descriptions of the regions are flavorful, and many of the NPCs have built-in adventure hooks to get players doing fun things.

But by comparison, as I was reading the Avalon and Montaigne sections, the tone came across to me as written by someone who doesn't really like those nations. "Yes, this is Avalon, here's the Queen, she lets the Sidhe in, they're taking over. None of them are likeable. Let's move on." "This is Montaigne, the aristocrats treat the common people wretchedly, L'Empereur and his wife are rotten, and the whole place is about to collapse into revolution. Let's move on." 

By contrast, the writing in "Pirate Nations" about places like La Bucca--or even villains like the Atabean Trading Company!--felt like the writers were trying to create something fun for groups to use, and were enjoying themselves while writing it. "Woo hoo! Visit an island ruled by pirate captains who have been tricked into a terrible curse! Watch out for this evil company that crosses Ayn Rand with a multi-level marketing scheme-FOR PIRATES!" Now that's entertainment! :D

Avalon and Montaigne in NoT1 read like school reports about places the writers really disliked. And that saddens me, because 7th Sea should be fun even when you're writing about villainy, I would hope.

That said, I still love Eisen, Vodacce and Sarmatia (GOLDEN LIBERTY!) and can happily run campaigns in those nations based on the core book alone. But I also do hope they receive more love in Vol. 2. I am particularly hoping we get more information about the Sabat family of Sarmatia and more Sarmatian villain NPCs and organizations for Heroes to oppose. And more detail about Sanderis and the Ratas.  

Salty Dog
Salty Dog's picture

I agree completely with what you've posted.

I'm seriously thinking of just rewriting the entire Avalon section, including 'fixing' the Knights of Avalon glamour by introducing Inish and Marcher-specific versions of it. Perhaps NoT1 suffers from being the first book released after the splendid Pirate Nations book, but it is clear to me that the passion, creativity, and love for the subject matter that permeates Pirate Nations is nowhere to be found in NoT1. It'll be my first one star review over at Drivethru RPG when it launches (unless they make drastic changes to it).

Nathan Henderson
Nathan Henderson's picture

I definitely agree it's incomplete.  I don't find it necessarily gloomier - it's just with shorter page count they focused on "negatives" because they provide conflicts to focus campaigns on.  But yeah, I definitely want to see expansion.

Avalon & the Isles: -The benefits of glamour's return (and the role under Elaine's leadership the Knights play countering the problems of glamour's return); how fulfilling pacts with the Sidhe brings health and prosperity
- Return of notable 1e character writeups (Lawrence Lugh, Fergus, etc)
- Jeremiah Berek's dog
- 20 Villain Glamour Archetypes that are appearing
- the rise of Sidhe blooded children and the controversy around them
- Parliamentary-faction that wants to use the Highland model in Avalon; mostly heroic, but proto-Cromwell is there too
- claimant to the throne for the Vaticine to support as the rightful heir (he/she might not live in the Isles, ala Mary Stewart in France)
- Not-London (can't remember its name right now), including violent sidhe backed rivalry between theatre troops (though Not-Shakespeare himself has had to flee Avalon after portraying the Seelie Queen fucking a donkey; his actor troop is now wandering Theah)
- Alternate distinctly Inish form of Glamour Sorcery relying on reputation and allowing warpspasm

NeoTanuki's picture

One thing that puzzles me about the Avalon write-up is that Inismore in the core book was described more primitive and heavily steeped in Sidhe culture and lore than the main island of Avalon itself. But in the "Nations" preview, the Sidhe seem to be setting up primarily in the most modern parts of Avalon, while there seems to be almost no Sidhe contact with Inismore. In fact, Inismore in "Nations" is described as having more universities and institutes of modern learning...which seems the opposite of the way it was described in the core book!

I'm also disappointed that the anti-Sidhe elements of the Highland Marches from 1e, like Clan MacEachern, didn't make it into 2e.

The biggest problem I have with Montaigne is that the 2e writers seem to be deliberately avoiding creating a setting that would work well for a Three Musketeers/Swashbuckling campaing set in Montaigne, and instead are focusing solely on grim, gritty French Revolution-style campaign themes. Not that the Revolution can't be swashbuckling, after all there's "The Scarlet Pimpernel" and "Scaramouche."--but I think they are trying too hard to over-emphasize a Montaigne that comes across too much like "Les Miserables."

Evan Sageser
Evan Sageser's picture

On Avalon, I think the main focus was to set up a greater conflict on whether the Sidhe are truly good for Avalon. In 1e, while the Sidhe are dangerous, the Graal is pointed out as having primarily brought prosperity to the realm, and it's removal is specifically called out as leading to a much grimmer era in Avalonian history.

Hell even the Sidhe, for all their bad reputation are essentially defenders of humanity against the Syrneth in 1e.


In contrast, 2e still has a fairy tale kingdom feel, but there are legitimate problems with the Sidhe returning. You can't just ignore the Sidhe with an occasional platter of milk left out for them, not if they're actually claiming land in Avalon, and for every village that is prospering from a positive relationship with the Sidhe, there's another that's under the heel of a cruel Sidhe lord.


One of the ideas with worldbuilding is to position locations at a breaking point so that conflicts will naturally arise. Montaigne obviously had that with the impending revolution, so it's clear that the wanted that to be a big focus. Avalon though wasn't quite as clear. They eventually added to the Doom of Elaine storyline, but it never really felt like a breaking point so much as an end point for a campaign. You can't bring back the magic after it's left, it's an irrevocable change to Avalon once Elaine's gone. 2e instead makes this more of a nuanced conflict though. Maybe we shouldn't keep the magic? Maybe it would be better for everyone if the Sidhe left humanity alone. But is Avalon losing some part of her soul if it loses that magic?

NeoTanuki's picture

Evan: I think the themes and potential conflicts you describe (Are the Sidhe good for Avalon in the long run? Is giving up magic worth forcing them out) are well-thought out and certainly can be good questions to tackle in a campaign. 

I think my frustration lies more with the fact that Elaine, who is a pivotal character in the Sidhe vs. Human conflict in Avalon, is given so little description in the preview.

I was re-reading the Core Book and it mentions things like Elaine being a  champion of the common folk, who rides out, meets with them and listens to their concerns. None of that is mentioned in the "Nations" preview. It's weird to me how different in tone the "Nations" preview descriptions seem from the Core Book.  

I find it frustrating we have no clue if Elaine is pro-Sidhe, anti-Sidhe, trying to forge peace between both sides...no political details whatsoever! Perhaps the writers wanted to leave that open so each GM could steer things how they wish. While I appreciate that, I would have liked some details at least on how different factions see Elaine (Example: "Peasants love her, Sidhe nobles like her for letting them reclaim their lands, Human nobles upset about her giving Sidhe nobles free run of the place.) Something like that would be helpful to start with.

My problem with Montaigne is that setting it up for a potential revolution isn't bad for players who want to do that kind of game...but I'm sure that there are others who want more of a Three-Musketeers style game with courtly intrigue, elegance and flair, and it would be nice if the writers appeared to make an effort to at least accommodate those players as well. In fact, my friend and fellow GM simply decided to ditch the existing Montaigne canon description and NPCs altogether and just copy King Louis and Cardinal Richelieu out of Dumas, because she frankly thought it would be more fun as a setting! And after reading the "Nations" preview, I've mulled doing the same thing (or at least going back to the 1e Montaigne sourcebook and using it instead.)

I'm sorry if I sound excessively negative. I don't want to come across as a 7th Sea 2e hater--I'm a huge fan of the game overall! I really dig the Core Book. I enjoyed "Heroes and Villains," and I LOVED "Pirate Nations." It's because this book seemed so different from the others, and in some ways was such a depressing read by comparison that caused me to have such a strong negative reaction to the Avalon and Montaigne sections. 

Nathan Henderson
Nathan Henderson's picture

Something that seems odd with Avalon's history... it's spoken of in terms of being an enemy of the Vaticine side in the War of the Cross, but wouldn't that only be true the last 10 years?  Wasn't it firmly under Vaticine rule before Elaine returned with the Graal?

Unless I'm making assumptions about Montaigne... perhaps like the Borbouns in the 30 years war, Montaigne was invested against the Imperial throne of Eisen regardless of religious sensibilities, and that's the context of their invasion of Margharet's Avalon.  And then Castille's invasion was triggered by Avalon switching sides...

NeoTanuki's picture

I've been very confused about the timeline for history in 2e. Some of the writing seems to assume that the reader is familiar with characters and events from 1e and will easily recognize any changes. But I've found it very difficult to follow, and I've read many of the 1e sourcebooks! Again, things like dropping names of 1e NPCS like Lugh and Montegue without explaining their new role in 2e canon is very hard to keep track of.

Nathan Henderson
Nathan Henderson's picture

Glamour Isles idea: the Graal and the Fal Stone give us two of the legendary treasures of the Tuatha de Danann from Irish Myth (Cauldron of Daghda and... well... the Fal Stone).  The other two are the Sword of Nuada and the Spear of Lugh.  So it stands to reason taht if there are 2 other great Sidhe Treasures, one is a sword and the other a spear (or lean into the clear tarot-parallels and the latter can be a staff or wand).

The Sword I'm thinking should be tied to the Highland Marches the same way the Graal is tied to Avalon, and the Fal Stone to Inismore.  Last seen in the hands of Robert the Dark, its been missing for centuries.  Whether it was carried off by Vesten raiders and is somewhere far from the Isles now, or its stuck in a stone in a deep cave in the Highlands where it can only be drawn by a true MacDuff King (plot point to draw on only if James dies without a clear heir) depends on the needs of the campaign.  While the Graal of course deals in archetype magic, and the Fal Stone is tied to the wild glamours the O'Bannon heralds (working on a system for that, it includes warp spasms, illusions, and semi-uncontrolled environment shaping), I'm thinking the sword and the signature sorcery of the Highlands it brings with its return is the most powerful weapon AGAINST glamour and the sidhe, meant to protect humanity from their worst excesses.

The Spear/Staff/Wand I'm less sure about.  I'm thinking if its bound to a fourth culture, there are two possibilities: It was either possessed by the Cymric people of what is now Montaigne (i.e. Not-Gauls) before the Numanari conquered.  OR it's the treasure of the Three Queens, making Bryn Brasil the fourth member of the alliance with the 3 visible Glamour Isles.

Evan Sageser
Evan Sageser's picture

I believe in 1e, the other two treasures are the sword Firinbrand, an excalibur expy currently wielded by Lugh (Elaine's fallen Sidhe Lancelotesque champion) And the Fairy Flag of Clan MacLeod, which helped the clan triumph against its foes by summoning armies of Sidhe warriors to fight alongside them. I believe the flag is currently missing though. (there's probably more info in the 1e Avalon Sourcebook and Swashbukling Adventures Sidhe book of nightmares)

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

The Fairy Flag of Clan MacLeod is an actual relic in Scotland, although it doesn't summon Sidhe warriors (that I know of), so is unrelated to the legendary treasures of Irish myth.

In real life, it's now thought to be the remains of a flag or piece of clothing from the Holy Land dating back to the 11th century at the latest, and the 6th at the earliest.

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

For the 4 Sidhe relics...

Fal Stone - Inish

Flag - Highland Marches

Sword - Avalon

Graal - A United Avalon/Inismore/Highland

That gives each land its own symbol and a united symbol. That's how I used to consider them in 1e and I think the tie in still applies.

Nathan Henderson
Nathan Henderson's picture

On that  note (the Graal as the symbol of the united isles), I was thinking... the crest of Avalon in the core, with its three crown, must be the symbol of the alliance, not the crest of Avalon itself to go with the red lion of the Highlands and the harp of Inismore.

I had the idea of something with white and black ravens, with the idea they were the historic emblems of House Lovaigne and Camlann (so the 200 year "not War of the Roses" can be the War of the Ravens).

Nathan Henderson
Nathan Henderson's picture

I just went back to the 2nd Edition core.  We really need a timeline!  Elaine's rule didn't begin till a full century after Avalon broke away from the Vaticine Church over divorce law.  So history does not follow the succession of Henry VIII to his daughters as closely as it did in First Edition with Richard IV and Iron Margharet preceding Elaine.

In fact, with the warfare between religious factions tied into the War of the Cross and foreign invasions of Avalon, Elaine may have followed events closer to the 17th century Civil War and Protectorate than in First Edition.

Antti Kautiainen
Antti Kautiainen's picture

I think new Avalon is closer to original main book Avalon of 1e. Those terrorizing sidhe are unseelie court. The areas where sidhe dwell should be avoided by most people - regardless which court they belong. And the Avalon is closer to the stories of Isles about sidhe.

Your view of events is way grimmer than written in the book. Sidhe was given part of the land by ruler, they did not take those parts by force. It was part of pact between Sidhe and Elaine for Grail.

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