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NeoTanuki's picture
House Rule Idea: "No Quarter" combat for final battles
combat, house rules

YET ANOTHER EDIT: A conversation on Reddit helped clear up that I had seriously misread some aspects of the Corruption and Helpless Mechanics. After some clarification from Mike Curry and Rob Justice (thank you both very much for taking the time!), I think I'm clearer and more comfortable using the rules as is and no longer feel the need for a "No Quarter" rule. However, for those who are still looking for something along those lines or want to do more detailed rules for a deadly vendetta between a Hero and Villain, I strongly recommend Kevin Krupp's "Climactic Confrontations" on Explorer's Society. (http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/207510/Climactic-Confrontations?src=...) I found out about it after posting my idea, and I think Kevin's approach is excellent and works better than mine. :D


Hello folks! I have an idea for a House Rule I'd like to get some feedback on. But since it involves a slight change to Corruption, I'd like to explain my thinking and reasons for coming up with it. Please bear with me. :)

So as some of you may be aware, there have been some quite passionate discussions about the Corruption mechanic in 7th Sea 2nd Edition lately. Some folks quite like it, others have very strong feelings (to put it mildly) against it, feeling that it places an arbitrary punishment for a player's actions.

For the most part, I myself like the Corruption mechanic. I personally prefer RPG campaigns with a more 'heroic' and lighter tone; when it comes to swashbuckling I'd much rather participate in a campaign along "The Princess Bride" in tone as opposed to "Game of Thrones."

However, in a recent discussion on Facebook, Kevin Krupp pointed out a possible issue with the Helpless and Corruption mechanic in important duels. Swashbuckling fiction often includes a dramatic (and lethal) final duel between the Hero and his archnemesis: D'artagnan vs. Rochefort, Captain Blood vs. Levasseur, Zorro vs. Captain Love, the list goes on. But if a GM strictly follows the core book rules, a foe is always rendered Helpless first, and the Hero must deliberately choose to kill them...which normally warrants a Corruption point.

Now, the 7th Sea team has already said that the GM not only has discretion about awarding Corruption, but they encourage always warning a player beforehand when an action would result in a Corruption point. And a GM may certainly choose to simply "waive" a Corruption point for killing a Villain in a duel as I describe above. These are reasonable options. But to me, it just feels awkward for the tone of certain fights that should be the dramatic finale for a story arc. What about the kind of awesome final duel where the Hero and Villain are going hammer and tongs at each other, the Villain makes the tiniest slip...and in a split second, the Hero delivers the fatal blow, avenging the Hero's mother/father/beloved/pet goldfish at last after many long years? If the GM has to say, "OK, now he's helpless. Do you strike the final blow? Think about whether you want a Corruption point," and the player responds he DOESN'T think it deserves Corruption because the Villain cruelly killed his pet goldfish, and the GM and player argue...well. I see that as something I don't want to happen in my games.

So that's why I came up with the following House Rule. (And thank you for your patience, lol.). It's basically an optional variation of the existing rules for Helpless foes in combat I call "No Quarter."


There are some confrontations where two combatants face off, and they both know one isn't going to walk away. When a Hero faces a Villain in an Action Sequence that the GM deems dramatically appropriate, the GM and the player(s) involved may agree to declare "No Quarter"--this is meant to be the final battle, and it's going to be a fight to the death.

To declare "No Quarter" the GM spends a Danger Point for the Villain, and the player spends a Hero Point at the start of the Action Sequence to raise the stakes of the conflict. The GM should describe the situation appropriately: "Count Blackheart draws his blade, a cold, ruthless smile on his lips. He says nothing, but it's clear he doesn't intend to let Captain Courage leave this room alive. Captain Courage, you smile grimly in response, and draw your own blade."

The duel is now to the death. If either the Hero or Villain is rendered Helpless, their opponent may simply declare a lethal blow and spend an additional Raise to put their foe down once and for all. (Essentially, the combatants pay the Hero Point/Danger Point cost to kill a Helpless opponent in advance). There are two additional effects: A player does NOT earn a Corruption Point for killing a Villiain in a "No Quarter" fight, as the Villain has made his/her murderous intention plain from the start. Also, the Villain may NOT spend a Danger Point to escape the battle...they are in this all or nothing to end the Hero once and for all!

Per standard Rules, a Hero who is rendered Helpless in a "No Quarter" duel can still take action by spending a Hero Point, or another Hero in the Scene can spend all their Raises to intervene to keep a Hero in the "No Quarter" duel from being killed. (This is meant to reflect the dramatic pause that always seems to come up in swashbuckler fiction...after all, don't Villains always monologue, or take time to switch their weapon grip and raise their sword dramatically for the killing stroke, or do something else unwise to give the Hero an opening?)

Additional Villains and/or players may be involved in a "No Quarter" duel if appropriate...the GM and players involved would simply spend Danger/Hero Points for each additional participant. (Just to clarify: A "No Quarter" battle does not have to be a formal Duel between two characters with the Dueling Academy advantage. It could be a brawl, a fistfight, grabbing rocks and throwing them at each other, in other words any kind of combat between archenemies.)

My idea is that "No Quarter" duels should be saved for very special occasions...for example, a fight between a player Hero and his/her archenemy at the final step of a Story, for example.

What do you folks think?

EDIT: I found out that Kevin Krupp previously proposed a similar house rule called "Dramatic Conclusions" in the forums here. His is a bit crunchier than mine, I highly recommend checking his proposal out if you're interested in a more detailed system for lethal duel mechanics.

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Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

Quite simply, I don't like it.

The reason I don't like it is because it's basically "A Hero can kill a Villain with no repercussions, but the Villain isn't in the same situation." Since you've allowed Heros to recover from Helpless or to have other Heroes save the "helpless" Hero with Hero Points, the only person suffering potential death is the Villain. That's fine, but I don't think you need a whole new mechanic. Just say to the player, "You'll suffer no Corruption for killing this Villain" before the fight starts. 


NeoTanuki's picture

I apologize, but I'm a bit confused by your post, Harliquinn. Villains don't suffer Corruption anyway, so what consequences to killing a Hero do you mean?

To be honest, while my explanation was pretty lengthy, really what my intent boils down to is that a Hero and Villain in a fight spend the Danger/Hero Point to do a lethal blow  at the start of the fight instead of when one of them is rendered Helpless (as in the Core Rules). I feel that having that declaration at the beginning of an important fight emphasizes the seriousness and stakes to both the Players and the Villain.

Now, if you are referring to my suggested restriction that a Villain not be allowed to spend Danger to escape the fight, I'm OK with taking that out or leaving it optional. I threw that in as a suggestion mainly because I thought it would be very frustrating for a player to spend weeks building up to the final battle with an archenemy, risk their life only for the GM to say "I spend a Danger Point! He runs away!" But certainly that might depend on the GM and what kind of story they want to tell.

As I mentioned in the original post, I already agree that it's fine for GMs who prefer to do so to simply say, "There's no Corruption for killing the Villain in this fight." But that still leaves (in my perception) the whole Helpless issue, which I don't think works for certain fights. Again, I have no problem with any GM or group that just says, "We're throwing out Helpless for this fight." But since some people seemed to be having issues with the way Helpless and Corruption work in fights, I thought I'd suggest a formal mechanic to show that an important fight has higher stakes and potentially lethal results.

If you don't like it, that's cool, that's why I threw it out as a House Rule. But I don't understand why you seem to think it's unfair to the Villain. Villains already get several mechanical advantages in combat (increased Wounds, ability to increase TNs, etc.) and don't have to worry about Corruption either. Honestly, Villain/Hero parity was never my intention. To my mind, Heroes should have more chances to survive than Villains. I'm not a fan of games where players spend months or years building up a character and getting emotionally invested only for "Blam! You're dead" from a poor die roll or sadistic GM.

TLDR: If I understood you correctly, your criticism was "I don't like it, it helps the Hero more than the Villain." My thinking is, "Why does the Villain need more help? It's the Hero who has to deal with the whole Corruption/Helpless question."

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

Actually my main criticism was "There is now a mechanic for 'final showdowns' where either the Hero or Villain is going to die. However, the setup is mechanically set up so that only the Villain can die. Only the villain is locked into the fight and doomed to die when he is helpless. The Hero can still be saved by outside forces instead of dying." What this makes it is "A mechanic for killing Villains with no consequences". 

Heros should be able to defeat villains without dying (otherwise it's a short campaign) but the rule as presented seems a complicated way of just saying "You can kill this Villain without consequences and I won't have him run away."

Does that make sense?


NeoTanuki's picture

Thanks, that's a bit clearer. My intent was not actually to put additional disadvantages on the Villain, rather, I just like the idea of the GM having a way to say at the start of the fight, "This is an important scene, the Villain is committed to using lethal force. There is no ambiguity about the Hero defending himself, this is a kill-or-be-killed situation."

I suggested the Danger Point expenditure because that's already part of the basic rules when a Villain tries to kill a Helpless Hero; my thinking was, "Well, if he'd spend it anyway, having him do so at the start of the fight is a good way to show the stakes are serious.


NeoTanuki's picture

After making that fairly lengthy response (lol, sorry, Harliquinn I tend to type very stream-of-consciousness style when thinking about house rules, my apologies), I have been reading the feedback here and on Reddit, and I do see the points raised by those who favor a non-rules mechanics solution. I have some other ideas on that front I'd like to mull over and possibly share later.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Sorry that I haven't read the full post, but it sounds like the TL;DR version is that you want to replicate those "duels to the end!" type of fights, such as Inigo vs. Rugen in Princess Bride, or D'artangan vs. Rochefort in Three Musketeers, or even Jack Sparrow vs. Barbossa in the first PotC movie.

My personal thought would be to leave it as the final step of a Hero's Vendetta story, in that when the Hero at last deals that fourth Dramatic Wound to the Villain around whom the Hero's story is based ("I want my father back, you son of a bitch!"), the Villain is dead as opposed to simply being Helpless.  No further mechanics beyond the Hero needing to have an active personal story that's dedicated to slaying the Villain (preferably in a dramatic confrontation with swords clashing and pithy one-liners being tossed back and forth) in response for some act that Villain did that caused the Hero harm (physical, emotional, or psychological).  I also wouldn't assign the Hero with the Vendetta story a Corruption point for the Villain's death, provided said death wasn't the result of assassination or similar underhanded means.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture

Thank you, NeoTanuki for your alternative mechanics contributions. If you refine it further, you could publish it on Explorers' Society like Kevin Krupp's variant.

7th Sea Explorer's Society - Climactic Confrontations

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

NeoTanuki's picture

OK, I feel a bit silly asking this, but....

...After reading feedback here and on Reddit, I went back to the Core rulebook to re-read the Corruption mechanics and think about my proposed House Rule again.

And I noticed something.

I've always sworn that I read somewhere in the rulebook that killing a Helpless Villain in a fight results in a Corruption Point. But...I couldn't find any mention of that in the book at all!

All I found was, A. You get Corruption for inflicting needless suffering (torture is the given example) and B. You earn Corruption for failing to save someone from death if it wouldn't put you at any risk of danger to yourself, and C. Some uses of Hexenwerke and Sanderis sorcery earn Corruption Points.

That's all I could find. 

Now, while I can imagine certain GMs could construe that "inflicting needless suffering" equals "Killing any Villain rendered Helpless in a fight," I was operating under the impression it was explicitly stated in the book that killing a Villain rendered Helpless results in Corruption. And I suspect now that I was mistaken.

Can anyone with access to their book confirm this for me one way or the other, please? Is there a specific statement that killing a Helpless Villain in combat warrants Corruption or not? (I don't have access to my book at the moment.)

If I was reading the book wrong, then I agree there's no need for me to house rule. That woud change my perception of Helpless status for a Villain in a fight from the Villain automatically dropping to his/her knees and crying "Spare Me!" to instead reflects the Villain's defense being left open for a critical moment, allowing the Hero to strike the final blow. Something like that. But definitely not warranting a Corruption point, in my opinion.


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

B. You earn Corruption for failing to save someone from death if it wouldn't put you at any risk of danger to yourself

This would include "helpless" villains, but is less explicit.

NeoTanuki's picture

But would it automatically include Helpless Villains? (That would be the key point.) It seems to me sparing someone who's possibly tried to kill you a few seconds earlier, and who has presumably been doing awful villainous things to you, your group and others for the course of a campaign could be considered "risk of danger" to the character... :D

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

It dawns on me that there could be a third option.  Granted, I haven't read Kevin's expansion, but...

Vendetta (1 point Advantage)
Someone has wronged you in the most personal way.  This is no mere insult or injustice, this offense goes to the core of your being.  It gnaws at you night and day like a hungry beast – a crime that must be answered for.  You have sworn revenge on this villain, and only death will satisfy your thirst for justice.  But there is a price for vengence.  In confrontations with the target of your vendetta, you receive a bonus die.  If you kill him, or are directly responsible for his death, you take a point of Corruption but do not roll.  You may never lose this point of Corruption.  No Redemption story can completely clean away the stain of your deed.  You may take this Advantage multiple times, but only once per target.

Let's call it the Arya Stark Advantage.  ;)

Sorry.  This doesn't really add anything to the discussion of Neo's idea.  But it would address the Inygo Montoya issue.  

NeoTanuki's picture

Interesting... :)

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

I can imagine John Wick throwing up his hands and screaming, "NO! NO! NO! Game of Thrones is NOT 7th Sea!"  But hey, it does address the issue.  :)

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