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Yanecky
Yanecky's picture
The Caliberi Letters
adventure

For my very first 7th Sea adventure I've decided to run "The Caliberi Letters." It looks fun, is short enough for one game night and looks like a great introductory adventure (in fact, I think it should be a part of the corebook). But I have some questions:

1) Scene 1: It's mostly roleplaying etc., no questions here, except: when did the War finished? I know it was a 30 year long conflict, but how long ago did it finish? In fact, what year is it (I assume there is an official storyline but I can't find it). For a quasi-historical setting, some dates would be nice.

2)Scene 2: This starts with combat. The villains jump out (but can they be spotted earlier? how?), the corpse rises, everyone rolls their approach, right? And needs to spend 2 R to avoid being ambushed, otherwise does nothing in the first round. They fight. If Bohn escapes (which is quite likely), tracking him down requires a short dramatic scene, right?

3)Since my players don't like starting in media res, they'll arrive to the daughter's house and see 2 carriages, once starts off, the brutes from the other attack the PCs to buy some time for the Villain. During the chase: I'm going to use the nice rules for chasing found elsewhere on this forums. How do I activate Villains special abilities, since they don't get hero points?

Thanks! I'm really looking forward to running the adventure!

 

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Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

I can answer some of these I hope:

1) I honestly don't know the canon answer to this in 2nd Edition. In my game the war ended a couple years ago (in 1st Edition it ended in 1666 and the game started in 1668)

2) I believe the '2 Raises to avoid Ambush' is the mechanical way for the Heroes to have spotted the villains. It's a little backwards but works in the context. The villains will attack regardless, 2 Raises spent in first round means your Hero wasn't surprised, noticed something was amiss, or is just quick to react. 

3) Villains activate special abilities with Raises or Danger Points (or both)

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

On the War of the Cross, the canon answer is...it depends.

According to the Nations of Theah books, the war has been over for 20 years.  Which seems like a loooong time in the context of the Caliberi Letters.

While the core book isn't specific, much of it was taken from 1st edition where the war had only been over two years (1666).

But there is no active timeline, and no intent to create an internal one.  So as a GM, you really need to decide what serves your story best.

Personally, I think 5 years better sets up the current state of Eisen.  20 years, a whole generation, feels too long for the War to have been a festering sore with monsters running rampant.  It makes some of the current geopolitics of Eisen make less sense.  So Teague has been sitting in his tower for 20 years drinking himself to death?  Sieger salted his lands 20 years ago and still sits there in his castle, resolute?  I think if JWP is going to play loosey-goosey with the timeline, it's really up to the individual GM to create his own and stick to it.  Use the 1st edition timeline as a starting point and work from there.  If you don't have access to the 1st ed books, that's no problem...

http://www3.sympatico.ca/jcmarshall/seven/timeline.htm

Yanecky
Yanecky's picture

All right thanks! I also thought that 20 years was way too long.

A few more questions, if you don't mind:

1) Can I combine Iron Reply (Eisenfaust style) with Signature Item? A NPC ( a tough combatant) has both these abilities. If I understand correctly, after the NPC takes wounds, she can spend a DP for +12 (or more) wounds (with 4 players she's Strength 8). Or Signature Item has to be activated in the beginning of the round, for +2 dice it offers?

2) How is Villain strength related to the difficulty of dramatic sequences. Let's say the PCs are talking to a Villain. They want to sell him a convincing lie. The said villain is a master manipulator himself, so the cost of raises to succeed should be higher? Perhaps the villain's strength, and all the PCs present have to contribute raises? Or am I overthinking it?

3) More on villains. Let's say Cardinal Richelieu (I am currently watching BBC's The Musketeers (it's the best adaption to date (for me)) and try to see the on-screen action in 7th Sea game terms) is a level 15 villain. Obviously, most of this is Influence. So when does the cardinal get to roll all 15 dice? 

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

1) Can I combine Iron Reply (Eisenfaust style) with Signature Item? A NPC ( a tough combatant) has both these abilities. If I understand correctly, after the NPC takes wounds, she can spend a DP for +12 (or more) wounds (with 4 players she's Strength 8). Or Signature Item has to be activated in the beginning of the round, for +2 dice it offers?

I...think so?  IIRC, Advantages don't stack.  But I don't remember how I know this, so maybe someone else can confirm.  Then again, Iron Reply is a maneuver and Signature Item is an Advantage, so you are good to go.

2) How is Villain strength related to the difficulty of dramatic sequences. Let's say the PCs are talking to a Villain. They want to sell him a convincing lie. The said villain is a master manipulator himself, so the cost of raises to succeed should be higher? Perhaps the villain's strength, and all the PCs present have to contribute raises? Or am I overthinking it?

If the villain is directly involved in the Dramatic Sequence, then she should get a roll and have raises to spend to affect the scene as well.  If you want to spitball it, you could assume the villain has 1/2 his rating in Raises to spend (1 for every 2 dice).  Or make it a Group Opportunity (1 raise from each Hero in the scene, each player must describe how they are contributing to the ruse).  If the villain's strength is higher than 5, it's probably a bad metric for a Dramatic Sequence.  To be honest, unless the hero pushing the ruse has some Advantage Knack to do so, I'm not sure I'd let them dup a master manipulator type villain – not in any significant way.  And if they did, it would be part of the villain wrapping them up in her scheme.

3) More on villains. Let's say Cardinal Richelieu (I am currently watching BBC's The Musketeers (it's the best adaption to date (for me)) and try to see the on-screen action in 7th Sea game terms) is a level 15 villain. Obviously, most of this is Influence. So when does the cardinal get to roll all 15 dice? 

Whenever you want.  You could roll 15 dice for every Risk if you wanted to.  But here's the trick, once you do that, the players' know what they are up against.  Now, that's probably not a bad thing for an established archvillain like Cardinel Verdugo or Villanova, but it removes some of the shock and surprise as well.  Rolling fewer dice can lure your players into a false sense of security, enticing them to act bolder and more reckless until you spring the trap.  

So lets go back to your previous question.  The players have telegraphed their plans to attend this party to sucker the big bad.  You could roll your 15 dice, take your 7 raises, and really mess with their plans.  Or you could roll 8 dice, take your 4 raises and make the ruse possible.  Now the players think, golly gee, we can really push this guy.  Imagine their horror, 2 sessions later, when you drop the whole enchilada on them and put them back on their heels.  

BTW, I still hold up the Kingpin in Daredevil season 1 as a golden example of how the villain mechanics in 7th Sea are supposed to work.  So if you have any confusion whatsoever in how this whole whittle away at Influence until the villain is vulnerable is supposed to work, watch Daredevil.  It's perfectly textbook.  I'd be shocked if the developers didn't watch that when they were fine tuning those rules.  Shocked, I tell you.

Also, if you want to read up on master manipulators, I can recommend Scott Lynch's Locke Lamora novels.  They are basically Fantasy Heist novels, with so much double crossing and manipulating going on...its just a ride.

Yanecky
Yanecky's picture

Watched Daredevil twice now, And Lynch's books are what I used to convice a player to try 7th Sea ;) Okay, enough questions, I'll be back with a session report after our game tomorrow :)

Yanecky
Yanecky's picture

Session report

With spoilers!

The PCs:

PC1: Assassin/Spy (Duelist)

PC2: Hexe with Student of Combat Advantage

PC3: Ship Captain

Scene 1

This was mostly roleplaying, introducing the setting, getting into character and the story. Fun.

Scene 2

The PCs go to the cemetery. I open with a dramatic scene and they declare what they’re doing. PC1 hides and uses a raise to find an empty vial of poison, he also relocks the cemetery gate. PC2 checks the ground and analyses the tracks. PC3 also looks for dangers etc. They approach the grave.

Action Sequence.

They roll their approaches, PC1 is surprised and does nothing (he rolled really poorly). PC2 rescues an NPC, PC3 aims his pistol at one of the two assailants. The Duelist Villain attacks PC3 inflicting a lot of wounds. Then PC3 uses disarming smile and she says “Nah, I’m off” and runs after the other villain who is already escaping. The PCs fight the undead body and then PC1 goes after the villains. I spend a Danger Point to counter disarming smile effect and the Duelist Villain is waiting for the lonely PC1. After taking some wounds he spends a raise to call for help. This was a long fight, mainly because we were learning how to do that, analyzing manuevers etc.

Then again drama sequence. The Hexe talked to the dead villain (this was a lot of fun) and learnt some details. But they spend too much time analyzing the graveyard etc. that when they arrived to the shack where villains had been hiding, no-one was there. Luckily they asked a villager about the cane (the dead villain said they were after that) and so the PCs ran to Muller Daughter’s house.

Again Action Sequence. I changed it a bit, because I don’t like starting in media res. When the PCs arrived they saw two carriages. One was already leaving, with a masked man inside. The other was ready to go, with 3 Brutes blocking the way. PC1 ran to the leaving carriage (getting some wounds from the blocking squad as the consequence) and killed the driver. PC2 Attacked the blocking brutes. PC3 shot one of the brutes on the first carriage. The Villain tried to shoot PC1 (who already had 3 Dramatic Wounds), but missed (I ruled that if you spend your raises to completely absorb the damage, you don’t get the dramatic wound. Otherwise guns would be too good). Anyway, to keep it short: PC1 managed to stop the carriage, PC2 got inside and the villain tried to take the girl hostage. He failed (she almost died but for a spend Hero Point), got out, they fought, the villain almost won, but eventually the Heroes emerged victorious.

All in all, the session was fun, but we encountered a number of problems and inconsistencies I hope you guys can clarify:

1) Taking wounds. A PC enters fight with 3 dramatic wounds. He takes 5 normal wounds. Does the 5th wound:

a)Skip over the first star bubble and carries on as the normal wound.

b) Counts as the next dramatic wound, making the PC helpless?

2) Wounds and villains. When a villain takes a dramatic wound, does it hinder them in any way? Do they get the same bonuses as PCs, or are these wounds just counters?

3) When a PC takes a second dramatic wound, NPC have +2 dice against him. When do I factor in these dice? At the start of the next round? What if other heroes take part in the scene, and they’re all healthy? The villain gets the 2 dice against one hero, but not the others, how do I separate this?

4) Brute squads. Am I correct to think that a brute squad acts only at the end of the round? So a duelist PC (weaponry 3) fights a brute squad of strength 10. He rolls 5 rises. He feints. He slashes (4 damage total so far). He lunges (3+3 damage, +4). He kills all 10 brutes before they can do anything, is that correct?

5) I’m predicting that with 5 players (we had 3 yesterday) the sheer number of raises at the table will make it very difficult to come up with enough cool opportunities and consequence for everybody to make choices. Any advice on how to remedy that?

6) PC1 has the boucher style. It means he can glue two manoeuvres together at one initiative count (at least this is how we understood this). So, for example, he rolls 4 raises. He slashes and feints, going down to 2 raises. The villain goes next. Is it correct to assume that the villain can only parry the faint (1 damage), because that’s the last damage he has taken? Or can he parry/riposte the slash damage as well?

7) We count the raises by adding all rolled numbers together and diving by 10. Is that right? Or should we “make dice sets”?

8) Parrying. A PC fights two villains. Villain 1 inflicts 4 wounds, then Villain 2 inflicts 2, then it’s PC’s turn. Can he choose which damage he wants to parry?

9) Traits. Probably the most important question. As it’s all in the description, if a player can always describe their PC using one trait to do everything, logically they’ll want to put all points at the start into that one trait (e.g. finesse). Then, regardless of the situation, he “does things with finesse” essentially never using other traits. How does it look like in your games? Do have specific pairs of trait+skill for specific situations? So more universal PCs (i.e. those who did not put all their points into one trait) feel more useful?

10) Since you roll dice only once per a Dramatic Sequence, do you get the bonus dice for using skill for the first time in the sequence? It's always the first time :D

A lot of questions! But I really like the setting and the game mechanics looks interesting, but different from what I have played so far, so I hope you can clarify these for me J

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

I'll do my best.

1) Taking wounds. A PC enters fight with 3 dramatic wounds. He takes 5 normal wounds. Does the 5th wound.

a)Skip over the first star bubble and carries on as the normal wound.

Yes.

b) Counts as the next dramatic wound, making the PC helpless?

No.

2) Wounds and villains. When a villain takes a dramatic wound, does it hinder them in any way? Do they get the same bonuses as PCs, or are these wounds just counters?

Just counters.  Villains get no special benefits from dramatic wounds.

3) When a PC takes a second dramatic wound, NPC have +2 dice against him. When do I factor in these dice? At the start of the next round? What if other heroes take part in the scene, and they’re all healthy? The villain gets the 2 dice against one hero, but not the others, how do I separate this?

No idea.  Use your best judgement.

4) Brute squads. Am I correct to think that a brute squad acts only at the end of the round? So a duelist PC (weaponry 3) fights a brute squad of strength 10. He rolls 5 rises. He feints. He slashes (4 damage total so far). He lunges (3+3 damage, +4). He kills all 10 brutes before they can do anything, is that correct?

Yup.  Duelists eat brutes for breakfast.

5) I’m predicting that with 5 players (we had 3 yesterday) the sheer number of raises at the table will make it very difficult to come up with enough cool opportunities and consequence for everybody to make choices. Any advice on how to remedy that?

Yup.  I made something for just that.

6) PC1 has the boucher style. It means he can glue two manoeuvres together at one initiative count (at least this is how we understood this). So, for example, he rolls 4 raises. He slashes and feints, going down to 2 raises. The villain goes next. Is it correct to assume that the villain can only parry the faint (1 damage), because that’s the last damage he has taken? Or can he parry/riposte the slash damage as well?

Rules update: You no longer have to wait for your next action to Parry or Riposte.  You can do it immediately.  So the technical answer to your question is no, because you could have already done it.

7) We count the raises by adding all rolled numbers together and diving by 10. Is that right? Or should we “make dice sets”?

NO!  Make sets.  There is a difference.

8) Parrying. A PC fights two villains. Villain 1 inflicts 4 wounds, then Villain 2 inflicts 2, then it’s PC’s turn. Can he choose which damage he wants to parry?

See answer to #6.

9) Traits. Probably the most important question. As it’s all in the description, if a player can always describe their PC using one trait to do everything, logically they’ll want to put all points at the start into that one trait (e.g. finesse). Then, regardless of the situation, he “does things with finesse” essentially never using other traits. How does it look like in your games? Do have specific pairs of trait+skill for specific situations? So more universal PCs (i.e. those who did not put all their points into one trait) feel more useful?

In my game, the player tells me his or her Approach and I say, "that sounds like a [Trait]+[Skill] roll."  He might then say, "Can I use my [Skill] instead?"  And I might reply, "How do you figure?"  He then says, "What if I do it this way?"  And I might say, "That's cool.  Roll [Trait]+[New Skill] then."  Or I might say, "No, that still sounds like [Trait]+[Old Skill].  But I'll give you a bonus die."

10) Since you roll dice only once per a Dramatic Sequence, do you get the bonus dice for using skill for the first time in the sequence? It's always the first time :D

Maybe.  Depends.  Is the scene over?

Yanecky
Yanecky's picture

Thank you!

Yanecky
Yanecky's picture

Just two more questions:

1)Villains: how many dice do I roll in combat or dramatic scenes: the power level (str+infl), or only Str (in combat?). (Also duelist Villains are dangerous!)

2) How do I deal with exploding dice? I roll one extra and add it to a set? If it comes 10 again, do I roll it again?

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

Villains: you may roll as many dice as you want up to it's Rank (Str+Inf). 

Exploding Dice: if your dice explode, any die that comes up 10 gives you an extra roll that you can use to make a raise. If it comes up 10, you keep rolling yes.

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

Was reading this (really interesting) and there was a question answered by Mike Curry on reddit about the second dramatic wound and how does the Villain get those two dice.

Here is the link:

https://www.reddit.com/r/7thSea/comments/5dc7lu/dramatic_wounds/

What Mike said was that whenever a Hero gets his second Dramatic Wound, the Villain gains 2 dice. If another Hero joins, the Villain will keep those 2 dice as long as there is one Hero with 2 Dramatic wounds in that fight. It does not matter if there are 3 o 4 Heroes more. I guess that also means if the wounded Hero runs, the Villain will lose those 2 dice until someone else gets 2 Dramatic Wounds. It does put the Heroes in a bad situation but that's what he said.

Does not make a lot of sense but I think it is done this way for the sake of simplicity.

Yanecky
Yanecky's picture

Once again thanks for your answers! Regarding Carlo Lope's answer: this results in the follow up question: what if more than 1 Hero has 2 DW, i.e. 2 hereos fight 1 villain, each Hero has 2 DW. Does it mean the villain get +2DW per hero? I kinda see it, as a villain gets more dangerous as his  victory approaches (mwha-haha!)

EDIT: Nevermind, I read the reddit thread: the effect only applies once.

Yanecky
Yanecky's picture

Sorry, one more point my player raised (heh). Because villains are built differently than Heroes and are generally more powerful, how can they be beaten in single combat (if they are duelists)? They have more wounds and typically at least the same number of dice as a hero. I'm new to the game, I'm just asking.

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

When I read the rules, it was crystal clear that they had "teamwork" in mind but I had the same question.

In the Heroes & Villains book, on page 110 there is an example of a duel 1 vs 1, but if you ask me, it is embellished in a way you think it will be okay. Drama aside, if you take a look at that example, you will notice the Villain has better stats but makes a lot of mistakes for the sake of letting the Hero win. The Villain in this case slashed harder and could withstand more Wounds.

So... the short answer, if  you stick to RAW, would be: They can't be beaten unless you are 2 vs 1, you force your Villain to make a lot of mistakes or the Villain is weaker than the Hero.

People may tell you that of course a Hero can win (they can, mind you) and that the system was created with this in mind. Well... if your Hero slashes for 3 Wounds, the Villain slashes for 3 Wounds and can resist twice as many Wounds, mechanically, there is no way the Hero can win. You can use your imagination to get opportunities and inflict consequences... but so can the Villain (unless he is stupid and not all of them are). If you want a fight betwen a Hero and a Villain on par in terms of power, you will have to twist a lot of things and, for me, it left me with a feeling of being cheap.

I was not convinced by this so I more or less thought of another approach. I haven't tested it though but you might get a few ideas that work for you if you feel you need to change things.

I got rid of the rule that Villains can resist as many Wounds as their Strength before getting a Dramatic Wound. They have the same health the Heroes have. There are a few problems with this:

  • 2 vs 1: Two Heroes lunge and the Villain is basically a kebab
  • If you make the Villain stronger, with the way the system works for duelists, it may obliterate the Hero before they can do anything. Balance is hard I think.

What I did to "solve" this is add an Advantage that only Villains have.

Advantage: No one stands in my way, no one!

Cost: 0 (haven't decided yet)

Description: When a Villain receives his last Dramatic Wound or when he is pushed in a way that there is no escape, his desperation gives him strength. Perhaps a raging madness makes him lose his composure or perhaps he becomes as cold and deadly as ice. Regardless, for every danger point the GM spends, the Villain "heals" a Dramatic Wound. The GM can only do this once.

 

With this, anyone can argue that a GM can abuse it, make every Villain have this Advantage and a lot of different things. Well, I tried to find something that worked for me and gave me a feeling according to the setting. I know I won't use this to screw my players so... in the end, it is up to the GM to change rules as they see fit (like the core book suggests).

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