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Evan Sageser
Evan Sageser's picture
7th Sea and Chronicles of Darkness mechanic fusion
System fiddling

To start with my situation:

I've been a huge fan of the World of Darkness (and the new Chronicles of Darkness edition) settings for a while now, but I've rarely played it because the system's task resolution mechanic never quite worked for me. It's always felt very arbitrary to me (at low skill, success can be difficult, but once you get to a certain point it's practically guaranteed to get one success. Not to mention my players' have never liked the feel of taking dice away to represent difficulty.

(In my experience there's a pschological aspect to number of dice. Players feel empowered when they look at their character sheet and know they get a bunch of dice to roll for a skill. When you take those dice away, they tend to get annoyed. 7th Sea handles this better in my opinion because the difficulty of the task is determined largely independently of number of dice rolled. Difficulty is instead represented either through consequences, which simply requires more raises to bypass (or you just pay with wounds or narrative penalties), or through danger point use, which simply means that your dice don't go as far for the roll.)

So, I've realized that there are some similar aspects to how 7th Sea's system plays out. Both use d10 pools in which you combine a pool of skills and attributes that range from 1 to 5 in scale.

So the idea occurs to me that it could be possible to use the 7th Sea conflict resolution system within the Chronicles of Darkness ruleset. This wouldn't actually require a full use of the 7th Sea rule-set, as there are certain aspects that don't really jive with Chronicles horror gameplay. (One of the biggest reasons I'm even considering using any part of 7th Sea is because I'm planning on running Changeling the Lost, where some amount of Swashbuckling gameplay wouldn't be disruptive to the tone)

 

Really all I'm planning is to take most of the basic conflict resolution from 7th Sea, and adapt the merits and powers to work with this system instead. For example, instead of a merit granting 9 again on a given task, it might instead allow you to make pools with fifteen for two raises (like you can with four skill ranks in 7th Sea) This would also probably involve making willpower work more similarly to hero points as well as doing some tweaking to the health system to possibly bring some of the death spiral into it.

 

Is there any sort of mechanical implications that I might be missing that could cause difficulties down the line?

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BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

Evan,

Before you go too deep down that rabbit hole, have a look at this.

Change the dice mechanic to d10s, roll 6+ to succeed, and the rest is done for you.  It's ALMOST a perfect match.

Evan Sageser
Evan Sageser's picture

It certainly looks like a decent system for horror and swashbuckling, but it's not exactly what I'm looking for.

 

Let me explain. A system that perfectly ecapsulates the two genres isn't my goal here, my goal is to run a Chronicles of Darkness game (with some tolerance for swashbuckling) in a way that works well for me.

 

There is plenty that I like about Chronicles of Darkness, the elephant in the room though is that the basic risk resolution system doesn't work well for me. 7th Sea's does.

This means I have a couple of choices. One I can transplant every setting feature of Chronicles of Darkness into another system I do like (which isn't a terrible idea, but it will mean a good degree of work to transplant everything I want in a way that feels right for me.) or I can try to replace the one (admitedly large) part of CHoD I don't like.

Basically the way I see it is that I have a house in a neighborhood I really like. Most of the house is fine, the only difficulty is that the house's roof is leaking pretty badly. I can either try to find or build a new house I like in the same neighborhood, with all the time and resources that would require, or I can try to patch the roof myself. If patching that roof will cause more problems than it will fix I'll gladly look for other options, but I'd like to at least give it a try before I give up on the system entirely.

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

OH!  My bad.  I thought you wanted to run 7th Sea using the WoD system, not the other way around.

Certainly doable.  But I'll leave the conversion to people who kow both systems best.

Robert Newman
Robert Newman's picture

Wow, actually... that is a very interesting idea indeed! 

I will admit upfront that normally I am not the best person to "wax mechanical" in most situations, but this was a discussion that could lead to some very interesting places that could be fun to explore. 

Now secondly, it has been a little while since I have played a WOD game, however it was the primary game(s) of choice for most of my good friends, and as a result I ended up playing a lot of NWOD stuff. That might put me at a slight disadvantage in this discussion as this was before they released Chronicles of Darkness, which is in many respects the "second edition" of the NWOD material. As such some things have been modified/altered I'm sure.

However I think a decent amount of the core material would be very much the same. And we'll, as I said before I think this discussion is too good to pass up being part of!

Now onto substance:

I think the first major concepts to tackle between the two game lines are tone, theme, and mood. Three things that WOD material has always been explicit about presenting to its players and readers. The core challenge here is with the high concepts for the two games: 7th Sea, as we all well know is a game specifically designed to tell stories in the vein of high swashbuckling adventure from novels, plays, and films like the Three Musketeers, etc, etc. WOD is all about horror specifically of the supernatural,dramatic and sometimes action, variety. 

The reason I bring this up is because the way these two genres handle things are very,very different (as I'm sure we all well know). Characters in 7th Sea are often highly skilled and potent individuals. Characters in WOD are usually the opposite (even amongst the supernatural games, there is usually always something more potent, powerful, and more deadly than the characters are- this is mainly just good fiction sense as if all obstacles were on the same "level" in any genre what real threat could they pose a group of six of the same "level"). The reason I bring this up is in how characters interact with the fiction and the world, and the assumptions the games make on those situations. 

You brought up an interesting fact about the core mechanic of WOD in your first post that I think is important here: players are usually not supposed to feel powerful in a WOD game, the deck is always stacked against them, there is always some chilling power/horror waiting around the corner to counteract their own moves/desrires, and once they achieve some sort of power it is usually dark and corrupting in nature. "Be careful in fighting monsters, lest you become a monster yourself" sort of thing. Hence why in the early game pools are usually much, much lower and it can be hard to even get a single success, but as the characters capabilities grow it gets easier to complete once difficult tasks because they start to become accustomed to surviving the horrors of the world around them while losing that part of themselves that was once "human", This is also why dice are taken away for difficulty, challenges for rolls simulate the nail biting, tension wracked participants in horror fiction. It doesn't always work as simulated but there you are. 

On the other hand the mechanics of 7th Sea are built with high action and adventure in mind. The mechanics are designed to encourage players to try some of the most dramatic and intense action and drama, it is designed with the intention of letting players feel like rugged adventurers in a fictional world of swashbuckling antics. While the deck is ,and certainly should be on occasion, stacked against them, heroes will always come out righteous, valiant, and heroic in their actions even if they die while doing it. A big example of this ,(at least for me), is in how the system handles death. It is very, very, very hard to have a character die to "stupidity",mechanically speaking. Now if a character jumps headlong from a thousand foot high rocky ravine with nothing to help them down, and nothing but sweet hard clay at the bottom, I would hope that character would be dead. But that is a "narrative" death, not a mechanical one. It's very unlikely that a character can straight up die because they only managed one raise last round, and with the death spiral and how it heals, generally speaking character death is a full function of story/drama than mechanical shenanigans. WOD has no such gaurentees, in fact it is all too easy for some to underestimate a situation both narratively and mechanically in a WOD game and the end result is death because of it. 

Why did I go into that long treatise? Well, in effect you would need to find a way of reshaping the 7th Sea mechanics to fit the tone and mood of the WOD world, and the genre it is designed to tell stories about. Not something that is impossible by any stretch, but could prove difficult in some respects. A lot of my suggestions will probably start of seeming sort of strange, but my intention with them is to achieve the same concepts and flavor of a WOD game, while keeping to the spirit of the 7th Sea rules as much as possible.

Firstly, the roll and keep everything of 7th Sea does not really need to change all that much. Depending on your preference you could probably even take the characteristics of WOD and transpose them over the traits of 7th Sea. It would mean reworking things a bit to get it to math evenly but it is possible. Same with skills really. But certain things would probably need to be adjusted to get the more grittier feel of a WOD game.

Some ideas off of the top of my head for the core mechanic first:

1. Change the number necessary to achieve a raise. This could be very, very tricky. On the one hand make the number too high and the game becomes impossible, but keep it too low and it defeats the purpose of telling those supernatural horror stories. I could see 12 being a decent number to start off with, as this will intensify the challenge significantly of general tasks, without breaking it too far. However while an option, I actually don't really recommend it now that I have it fully typed out...

2. Increase Consequences. This is an easier one to rectify, and I think the better option. Increasing the stakes makes the challenges more difficult, without necessarily "taking away raises" from the players. Make them spend an extra raise to achieve success,(you could even require different amounts of raises depending on "difficulty" of the task trying to be achieved) make the narrative consequences of a roll more impactful depending on the action, and increase the wounds you would normally apply to a given situation.

Now when it comes to merits and the like I could certainly see very powerful merits applying the sets of 15 for two raises principle, but I could also see some of the other merits offering bonus dice to rolls in certain situations. Considering the suggestions I made intensify the difficulty to a large extent, players are going to need to find avenues to pull those dice out so they can make the raises necessary to succeed. 

In terms of Willpower as Hero points. That is a decent idea overall. However you would need to reign in how often points are given out during play if you want to meld the two together. Since willpower is supposed to represent a depleting resource in many ways a normal/constant rotating economy for Hero points sort of defeats the purpose. However you could probably use the way in which Willpower is determined when you start play/character creation, and those are the number of points they have to start a game with. 

You will also have to determine how you want contracts to work for changeling. That could prove a strange and unexpected hurdle when trying to rectify bringing two systems together for this purpose. I can't really say what challenges that will bring because sadly I don't have my changeling book out at the moment. However some contracts can offer interesting suggestions to complications for risks should they be involved in a roll. 

You may also find damage difficult to reconcile between the two. Considering WOD has a very extensive damage methodology that is a little difficult to try to meld with the death spiral.

Just some thoughts...

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