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Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture
Brutes and Duelists (House Rule)
brute squad

Based upon the conversation in this thread http://www.7thsea2e.com/port/forum/duelists-vs-brutes, I have made the following house rule.

Brute Squads Strength is reduced by spending Raises not by dealing Wounds. A new Duelist Maneuver has been added and all Duelists get it:


Maneuver: Whirl

Not all duels are one on one; fighting a group of armed men requires different tactics. When you perform Whirl, spend a number of Raises (minimum 1). You reduce a Brute Squad's Strength by a number equal to Half your Ranks in Weaponry rounded up plus the Raises you spend. You can use this maneuver once per round.


Going to give this a try at the next game and see...

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

Well, you need to be careful.  If you spend all your time practicing against mutliple opponents, you'll get out of practise for 1-on-1s.

LibrariaNPC's picture

Glad to know someone else likes my idea of bringing Whirl back! I'm still on the fence about using 1/2 Weaponry (still waffling between 2 brutes per raise spent or usable once per round and defeats Brutes == Weaponry).


Let me know how it pans out if you use it soon! I'm trying to get a group together here; slow process. 

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

NeoTanuki's picture

So a friend of mine and I decided to run some sample combat/action scenes against Brutes to see how the regular rules compared to the "1 Raise=1 Brute removed" proposed optional rule.

We ran 1 Eisenfaust duelist (Brawn 3, Weaponry 3) and a Sarmatian Brawler (Brawn 4, Weaponry 3, Boxer but no other combat advantages) against the following:

-Strength 5 Brute Squad (regular) -Strength 5 Brute Squad (Assassins) -Strength 5 Brute Squad (Duelists)

Let me strongly emphasize, this post is not intended to prove or disprove anyone's views on 7th Sea combat and brutes, or find fault with anyone's views on Duelists. It truly isn't intended as mathematical evidence...I was just genuinely curious to see how Duelists and Non-Duelists compared if I ran a scene with standard rules as opposed to Harliquinn's suggestion. I admit my results surprised me, though, so I thought I'd share them:

The first action scene, we used the standard core book rules, I forgot to spend Danger Points the first round. (EDIT: Correction-I forgot to spend a DP to increase the difficulty for the Heroes' Raises, but did spend a DP to allow the Assassins to hit first.) Both Heroes rolled very well (Brawler got 5 Raises, Duelist got 4). Result: All 3 Brute squads taken out before being able to do anything in one round. Not so promising...

Second Action Scene: Same set-up, but this time I made sure to spend Danger Points to increase difficulties and activate Brute abilities. This time it was more of a challenge for the Heroes. They off-set the increased difficulty by spending Hero Points on each other, but this time it took 2 Rounds to beat all three Brute Squads and both Heroes took roughly 1 Dramatic Wound each.

Now here's where it got interesting: For the third action scene, we used the same setup but we switched to the proposed "Everyone does 1 Raise to take out 1 Brute" house rule. Again, I spend Danger Points to increase difficulty and activate Brute abilities, and the Heroes spent HP. The results were almost identical to the previous encounter using the standard rules...about 2 rounds to take out all 3 Brute squads, and both Heroes suffering roughly a Dramatic Wound each. It really surprised me how closely this combat matched the previous one despite the rules change!

Last, just to change things up, I tried the two Heroes against a Strength 5 Regular Brute Squad, a Strength 5 Duelist Brute Squad, and my Arrogant Young Duelist Villain template (Villainy 5 with Aldana style and Fencing). We used standard rules, and overall I think this combat was the most dramatic and enjoyable. It lasted around 5-6 rounds instead of two, the Brute Squads were down by Round 2, and the combat between the Eisenfaust Hero and the Villain was getting serious, the Eisen had 3 Dramatic Wounds and the Villain had 2. The Brawner and Eisen took the Villain down when we reached Round 5-6 or so. (I forget exactly, sorry.)

Now, this was a very limited test, and not done scientfically or to cover every possible combo of Brutes, Duelists, and non-duelists. But for myself personally, here are my impressions as a GM:

  1. Overall, it seemed like the Brawler could handle one Strength 5 Brute squad quite well by himself, and the Duelist could handle 2 five-man squads pretty consistently. I think 7th Sea really just is intended for small numbers of Heroes to be able to take on large numbers of Brutes and win.

  2. Combat was very one sided against Brutes using the regular rules if I didn't spend Danger Points on the scene. BUT..once I did start spending Danger Points, the combats became noticeably less one-sided and the Heroes had to think about their decisions more.

  3. Definitely the biggest surprise for me was that switching to Harliquinn's proposed house rule didn't affect results nearly as much as I expected it to. Both Heroes defeated the Brutes in about the same amount of time, took about the same amount of damage, and I was still spending Danger Points to make things more challenging. But I didn't see any major shift that made Brutes different...two Heroes against three 5-man Brute Squads still resulted in a Hero Victory in 2 rounds, same as with standard rules.

  4. The Brawler character was doing far better than I expected, given that he has no special combat Advantages except Boxer. The Brawler constantly rolled very high numbers of Raises, which means that even though he tended to spend all his Raises on single attacks, he was taking out Brute squads pretty effectively. While he couldn't handle defending as many foes at once the way the Duelist could, there definitely wasn't a feeling that the Duelist was doing all the work. In fact, in the last Action Scene we tried, the Brawler's intervention was critical to keep the Duelist from being defeated by the Villain.

My takeaway? For my own games, I think I'm OK with the rules as they are. However, if other GMs and players feel differently, though, I still don't see anything wrong with using house rules as you see fit, especially if you want combat to be less cinematic and more "gritty." I do have to say though, I'm really surprised how little change there was to Duelist vs. Non-Duelist effectiveness when I tried the proposed house rule out, though.

That said, I do really think throwing in a low-level Villain lieutenant as a leader for Brute Squads worked well to keep combat going longer and upping the tension a bit when needed. And liberal spending of Danger Points really helped when I wanted to challenge the Heroes more.

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

Have you thought about running a sample with both characters having weaponry 5? What I mean with this is that when they get weaponry 4, they can make sets of 15 and the number of raises grows a lot and with weaponry 5, 10s explode. They are able to handle more enemies (a lot actually) even if they are not duelists, but I'm curious about how danger and hero points could affect combat in that case.

NeoTanuki's picture

Hi Carlo! Since all my players are just starting out, I decided to just pick a pair of their pre-exisiting starting Heroes to see how it might affect games in the near future. I would be interested in seeing how higher-level Heroes do also when affected by DP spending, but it's a little trickier as I'd need to invent some advanced Heroes stats from scratch. 

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture


    First, thanks for running the scenes as you mentioned. It's always nice to see how things are going.

    I do have a few questions about your scenarios just so I can understand how things worked:

1) Did the number of Raises the Duelist and Brawler get stay the same in each scenario? (4 for the Duelist, 5 for the Brawler?)

2) Did the Duelist use the same maneuvers in Scenario 2 as in Scenario 1? If so, I'm not sure why it took 2 Rounds and I'm not sure why both heroes took Wounds as the Duelists never should have gone. You mentioned they offset difficulty by assisting (Which I assume meant same number of Raises in the end, but if not you'd need to say how many Raises they ended up with). Other than Duelists doing their damage twice and the Assassins getting to act first, there is nothing in Scenario 2 that would have reduced the combat effectiveness of either Hero, so they should be able to still take out all 3 Brute Squads in 1 Round, just after taking the Assassin wounds.

Overall I really appreciate that you took the time to do this. As you said it's not a scientific study or mathematical support for one way over the other, but it is interesting. 

Where I am concerned (at least with my own game) is that when you now extrapolate this to 6 Heroes (3 Duelists), to keep the combats interesting, would require 9 Brute Squads (45 men) or 6 Brute Squads (30 men) and 3 Villains to have the same 'dramatic feel' as the 2 Hero scenario. 

We did play a short session last night and after a fight with Brutes, the Duelists felt the new "Whirl" maneuver seemed reasonable and fair against Brutes. It essentially gave them the ability to reduce the Strength of the Brute Squad by (Weaponry / 2 rounded Down) over a normal combatant, and they weren't able to use it twice in a round.

I would definitely be interested in hearing more stories :) 

NeoTanuki's picture

Hi Harliquinn, happy to answer your questions!

Regarding your Question 1: No, in fact during the second action scene, both Heroes had less Raises due to my spending the Danger Point to increase the TN. Spending their HP helped mitigate this somewhat, but even so the Duelist dropped significantly compared to the first Scene. I don't remember the exact numbers, but I think the Duelist had only 2 or 3 Raises and the Brawler 3 or 4 for the second combat. 

Regarding Question 2: I apologize, looking back on my writeup I realize I made an error. In the first Action Scene, while I did forget to spend a DP to raise the TN for the Heroes, I did in fact spend a DP to activate the Assassin squad's special ability to act first. Which was a mistake, because then the Eisen Duelist used Iron Reply. Bye, bye, Assassins. (In hindsight, I regret not putting the Assassins against the Brawler instead.). During the second Action Scene, I specifically avoided using the Assassin special ability to avoid another Iron Reply wipeout, so yes, the Duelist and Brawler Heroes did change up their maneuvers during that Scene. I will edit my post to correct this. 

Regarding some of your other comments: Though the combat worked out OK for me using the standard rules, I do share your thought that 15 to 2 odds seems like a lot of Brutes to have to throw at Heroes. I can definitely see your concerns regarding running a combat with 6 Heroes! Because I have a small number of players, all my sessions have been solo or 2 players so far, which has worked fine. But I wonder if 7th Sea scales a bit like Battletech. When I used to play Battletech, having 2-4 Mechs on each side resulted in a fun game that lasted a couple of hours. But if you tried to run one of the published scenarios that recommended 8-12 Mechs on each side..YIKES! You ended up with a game that could potentially last a couple of days...it really bogged down! 

I did ask my Duelist what he thought of the Action Scene with the 1 Raise=1 Brute rule and honestly, he said he didn't feel particularly hindered or disadvantaged by it, so if it's working in your game, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't continue. It really did surprise me though how closely the results mirrored the previous combat using the standard rules...I seriously was not expecting that. 

Just out of curiousity, have you tried running any combat with your players versus Brutes with the Monstrous qualities of Chitinous or Fearsome? I was reading up on these and Fearsome in particular sounded like it might step up the challenge for Heroes. Causing Fear seems like a quality that could be reasonably justified for non-Monster Brutes (I would just say the Brutes are part of some sinister military squad/regiment or outlaw band with a fearsome reputation.)  Being able to automatically take away 1-2 dice per Risk is pretty serious, and the GM can double that penalty by spending a Danger Point. I haven't tested it, but if the Heroes don't have a Virtue that cancels Fear effects...Yikes! As for Chitinous, I thought it might be helpful to have Brutes who can actually block damage, and again I could rationalize this for non-Monsters simply by saying the Brutes are wearing armor or protective gear under their clothes, or some such. Thoughts?

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

We are using the compromise of the Whirl maneuver I presented and the Duelists all felt it was a good compromise.

I do also plan to create and use more Brute Squad special attributes or abilities to help them feel different and allow them to be a hindrance for a short while. I think our method will work for our group as none of them want me to have to throw up 20-30 Brutes.

Another change that helps us to have more Brute Squads of lower strength. in the last game, I used 4 Squads of Strength 4 instead of the usual I would have done of 2 Squads of Strength 8 each. 


Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

As I've noted elsewhere, a Brute Squad by itself was never meant to be a major challenge to the heroes, much like the nameless mooks you see in countless adventure films were never meant to be a major challenge to the lead characters.

So yes, unless you throw overwhelming numbers at the Heroes, then Brute Squads are going to go down very quickly, even against those Heroes that don't have access to Duelist Maneuvers.  And that seems to be the intent, that the PCs can feel like a badass when their Hero quickly dispatches a group of Brutes, be it through swordplay (Weaponry), fisticuffs (Brawling), threats (Intimidate), or sweet-talking (Convince).

I think it also bears mention that Action Sequences are delibrately left unspecified in the amount of time they actually take in-game.  So for instance, what may only be a single Round for the Heroes that's wrapped up in a couple of minutes might actually be several minutes of back-and-forth swordfighting for their characters.  So while Stabby McStabberson the Duelist may only need to spend a couple of Raises to take out a Strength 5 Brute Squad, in the setting itself that exchange could well take Stabby a couple of minutes of back-and-forth swordplay with the brutes.

Plus, as others have noted, if you want the encounter with Brute Squads to be interesting, don't just make it a flat combat scene where all there is to do is just have the Heroes hack away at the bad guys with relative impunity.  Include elements that could operate as consequences, dealing a minor amount of wounds if not avoided so that the Heroes aren't just spending their Raises on dealing damage.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

TheFrenchDude C...
TheFrenchDude Cheese and wine's picture

I like that !

I'll add this to my House rules in this thread


Thank you

“A vaincre sans péril, on triomphe sans gloire”

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